Home Daily News Roundup Criteo Investors Push For A Strategic Acquirer; The FTC Fines Avast

Criteo Investors Push For A Strategic Acquirer; The FTC Fines Avast

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Selling Criteo

Petrus Advisers, a UK-based investment firm, now owns 5.5% of Criteo’s shares – and it’s taking the opportunity to petition CEO Megan Clarken for changes, including a potential sale.

The firm is careful to note that it isn’t calling for layoffs. Rather, it’s “focused on human capital” and “buying into” Clarken’s investments in people, according to a public letter.

Criteo’s transformation plan is sound, Petrus writes, but the way in which that plan was communicated to the market has been subpar at best. Meanwhile, Criteo continues to face outsized sell-offs due to privacy regulations and third-party cookie news.

Petrus also notes that it’s now one of just 10 shareholders – individuals or institutions – that together own more than two-thirds of Criteo.

There are only a few large investors that can “stomach” Criteo’s complexity, the letter writers declare.

The letter goes on to highlight Criteo’s move late last year to slash its 2025 net revenue, which caused the company’s share price to drop by 12% on earnings day. “This episode demonstrates the challenges of designing, executing and communicating a business model transformation for a complicated, listed, small ad tech company.”

In addition to new board members, Petrus wants a review for potential acquirers, since apparently there are strategic buyers that value Criteo more highly than Nasdaq investors.

Avast, Ye Mateys

The FTC has hit its next target.

On Thursday, the commission slapped Avast, which sells consumer-facing antivirus and VPN products, with a $16.5 million fine and also banned the company from selling browser-based data for advertising purposes.

Since at least 2014, Avast allegedly collected consumer data through its software and browser extensions without consent and sold that data to third parties for advertising through its now-shuttered subsidiary, Jumpshot. (Avast closed Jumpshot down in 2020.)

As a VPN provider, Avast’s promise to protect people from third-party tracking by masking their browsing history makes this practice especially deceptive, according to the complaint.

Although Avast claims it removed identifying information from data before licensing it, the FTC counters that the company failed to stop its clients from using their own data to re-identify users.

To make matters worse, agency holding company Omnicom, then one of Jumpshot’s clients, was permitted to match Avast’s data with data brokers for targeted advertising.

Beyond being prohibited from selling web browsing data to third parties for advertising purposes, the FTC’s order also requires Avast to notify consumers whose data has been sold, delete all data obtained through Jumpshot and implement affirmative consent standards.

The FTC isn’t screwin’ around.

Unaffiliated

Niche product review sites once had a clear monetization model: Build credibility with intent-driven consumers and reap the rewards of search and affiliate traffic.

But that model is mooted by SEO-optimized affiliate content from big-name publishers, which supplant the top Google Search spots.

HouseFresh, which publishes in-depth reviews of air purifiers, lamented the sad state of online search in a recent post. It cites major publishers – from Wirecutter (owned by The New York Times) to Dotdash Meredith’s Better Homes & Gardens – that publish SEO-optimized air purifier rankings. Even sites that aren’t a fit for this type of content, like Rolling Stone and Forbes, are in on the action.

In recent years, Google Search revamped its algorithm to prioritize independent product review sites. But big-name sites are focused on winning Google Search rather than earning consumer trust, regardless of what they say publicly. And their reviews, which are often aggregated or misinformed, especially on niche or complicated topics, are still dominating search.

The result? A BuzzFeed listicle pasting Amazon reviews will outrank HouseFresh. Meanwhile, the quality of reviews coming from trusted names like Wirecutter has slipped, as NYT and other national pubs try to wring affiliate revenue from product reviews.

But Wait, There’s More!

Thursday was a big day for Reddit. It (finally!) filed for its IPO [CNBC] and struck a $60 million annual deal to license its content for Google’s AI models. [Reuters]

Comscore Campaign Ratings will now encompass national and local linear TV, digital, streaming and social channels. [release]

Retail data platform Crisp raises $50 million in Series B funding. [release]

The IAB Tech Lab’s Podcast Technical Working Group has published podcast measurement updates for public comment. [release]

Assessing the impact of Google’s Privacy Sandbox. [Ad Tech Explained]

Vice Media CEO confirms it will no longer publish content on its site and will lay off “several hundred” staffers. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Google tests removing the News tab from search results. [Nieman Lab]

You’re Hired!

M&C Saatchi names Zaid Al-Qassab as CEO. [release]

AdLib appoints Cindy Kidney as its new chief operating officer. [release]

Stagwell’s Brand Performance Network promotes Shannon Pruitt to global CMO. [release]

IPG agency Huge names Chidi Achara as its new chief product officer. [release]

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