Criteo To Acquire IPONWEB For $380 Million

Criteo acquires IPONWEB

Criteo is buying IPONWEB, the engineering company that built most of the underlying infrastructure for the ad tech ecosystem.

The deal, announced on Thursday, is valued at $380 million and represents a huge chess move on the part of Criteo.

So, what does Criteo get from acquiring the company responsible for building the foundation of programmatic advertising as it exists today?

One Twitter user put it rather succinctly:

A Criteo/IPONWEB combo is “the perfect anti-Google machine.”

According to Criteo, it plans to use IPONWEB’s development chops and its DSP and SSP solutions, to accelerate Criteo’s Commerce Media Platform vision.

Although retargeting is still core to Criteo’s business, its top priority is to build targeting products to serve its growing base of retail media and ecommerce customers in a post-cookie world.

In order to lessen its reliance on third-party cookies, Criteo has been developing new and alternative solutions, including a first-party shopper graph, a commerce media platform and a new contextual targeting solution that anonymously groups people based on their transactional behavior and then uses AI to find the publisher URLs and contextual categories that have the highest affinity for those groups.

Joining forces with IPONWEB “turbocharges the execution” of Criteo’s Commerce Media Platform strategy, Criteo CEO Megan Clarken said in a release about the deal.

Megan Clarken, CEO, Criteo, and Boris Mouzykantskii, CEO, IPONWEB speaking at AdExchanger's Programmatic IO event in October 2021 in NYC.And IPONWEB has the chops to do it. Back in 2003, IPONWEB developed the IP and algorithmic decisioning infrastructure for the first-ever advertising exchange, Right Media.

Between 2010 and 2013, IPONWEB sharpened its focus on RTB-related platform development and launched BidSwitch in 2014, which serves as a global infrastructure platform to support RTB ecosystem connectivity and trading efficiency.

And now it’s time to sharpen its focus away from third-party cookies – and not “cry into our Wheaties,” as Criteo CEO Megan Clarken put it on stage at AdExchanger’s Programmatic IO event in October. (Clarken’s co-panelist was Boris Mouzykantskii, CEO and co-founder of IPONWEB, who was sitting on stage right next to her.)

In addition to doubling down on commerce, Criteo is getting access to IPONWEB’s large media trading marketplace and its SSP, which will give it more direct access to publishers and media owners – aka, access to more first-party data.

For its part, Criteo had been working on a single sign-on solution called OpenPass that will serve as the consumer-facing consent-gathering mechanism for the Unified ID 2.0 initiative. (The Trade Desk has since taken back full control over OpenPass.) Criteo is currently a supporter of Prebid SSO, a single sign-on project being developed under the auspices of Prebid.org.

“Instead of worrying about [the walled garden platforms] and their strategies and what they do, we’re focused on our own,” Clarken said on stage, “and on rallying around the open internet.”

Updated 12/10/21 to accurately reflect Criteo’s relationship with OpenPass.

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