Criteo Eyes Direct Hooks Into Publishers’ Header Bidding Containers

ericeCriteo says it is beta testing a product that would allow it to directly integrate – and give it priority access – within publishers’ header bidding wrappers.

Wrappers help publishers organize tags from multiple header bidding partners and are commonly billed as a way to manage latency and other complexities, like ensuring bid requests are properly rendered.

“We’ve started to deploy a direct bidder where we’re able to access more inventory in the publisher wrapper,” said Criteo CEO Eric Eichmann, in an interview before the company’s Q3 earnings call on Wednesday.

Criteo, which cuts “first-look” deals with publishers, is one of the original header bidders. Sixty-five percent of Criteo’s revenue comes from open RTB, while 35% stems from direct publisher deals.

The direct bidder Criteo is developing aims to gain priority placement within the wrapper by moving to a first-price auction.

Thus, competitors may perceive it as an attempt for Criteo to reassert itself atop the waterfall. And, since real-time bidding operates on a second-price auction, it could add complexities to how a publisher currently manages their yield.

But Criteo brings unique, performance-driven demand from retailers, CPGs and brand manufacturers of the likes it gains from the HookLogic deal, the company claims, which suppliers like.

Although Criteo didn’t share which publishers the beta test involved, it said there will be a broader deployment for the direct bidder in Q1.

Header bidding colored Criteo’s earnings call, since Google gave third-party exchanges access to its dynamic allocation product last spring. Since then, Google reportedly has doubled its external exchange partners and quadrupled its publisher partners.

Eichmann didn’t specifically say how Google’s solution will impact Criteo, noting only that the macro changes have altered the way one connects supply and demand.

“We think putting all of the demand at the same level instead of stacking it up is positive because it’s opening up a lot more upfront and it requires you to be smarter about how you bid,” Eichmann said. “In a couple of quarters, we think there will be a better reflection of how supply and demand are shaking out, but we feel good about where header bidding is going.”

Other than header bidding, Criteo talked up the data implications of the HookLogic deal and its recent push into paid search. Criteo’s goal is to connect performance and sales metrics, both in-store and digitally.

“Our [acquisition of HookLogic] shows how we can begin to combine brand and retailer insights and apply what we’ve done with retargeting and performance to bring people back to a site or store,” Eichmann said. “The ability to be part of a network is very interesting to brand advertisers.”

Overall, Criteo’s Q3 was strong, despite its recent litigation with competitor SteelHouse, which the companies agreed to end on Tuesday.

“We’re in the business of helping marketers become better and drive value for them, not paying lawyers, so the faster you can reach a resolution outside of the courts, the better,” Eichmann told AdExchanger. “I think it’s clear our solutions are based on distinct attribution and pricing methodologies.”

Criteo’s Q3 revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs was $177 million, a 32% increase over last year. About 57% of that revenue was attributed to mobile. Criteo added more than 1,000 net new clients in the quarter, its largest quarterly addition to date.

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