COVID Tagged Criteo For $100 Million, But Ecommerce Gains Help It Rebound

The COVID-19 crisis has sent Criteo spinning with a mix of headwinds and tailwinds.

Criteo earned $438 million in Q2, a 17% decline from the same period last year, according to its earnings report on Wednesday. By comparison, Criteo’s Q1 2020 revenue had dipped 3% year-over-year.

And the company attributed $100 million in lost revenue due to COVID-19.

But there are reasons for optimism.

“The big bright spot is ecommerce,” Criteo CEO Megan Clarken told AdExchanger after the earnings call.

Criteo’s business with both large brick-and-mortars with major ecommerce businesses, and with mid-size or regional chains have accelerated. These two growth areas have blunted the loss of some business with larger retailers that have mostly in-housed online ad sales or are closing stores.

More online shopping is good for Criteo’s retargeting and retail media businesses, as well as newer revenue lines for Criteo such as app installs. Clarken said smaller retail chains in particular previously didn’t feel pressure to invest in an app or online sales but are now making downloads and ordering options like buy online pickup in-store a priority.

Criteo’s industry influence

Clarken said the company is also asserting itself more strongly in industry and tech policy discussions.

Only Criteo and Facebook have submitted proposals to update Chrome’s TURTLEDOVE browser privacy framework, she said.

“We’ve been open-eyed about what Chrome needs to achieve,” she said. “And they’ve been very vocal that they want to make sure they protect the ad tech ecosystem.”

For instance, Chrome’s TURTLEDOVE proposal would give the browser control over the log-level ad server data, instead of ad tech companies. And instead of real-time reporting on that log file data, Chrome would instead return aggregated campaign results (eg the number of impressions won, and on what sites) a few times per day, or even every 24 hours later.

For ad tech companies that rely on real-time campaign optimization and factors like frequency capping and fine-tuned auction dynamics, that change to Chrome would be an existential crisis.

“Some of these asks are no-brainers,” Clarken said.

Hires and market cap

Criteo is raising its profile with a couple of recent hires as well. In June, the company named Sherry Smith, former CEO of the GroupM shopper marketing agency Triad Retail Media, as its managing director of retail media in the Americas. And on Wednesday Criteo announced that it’s poached OpenX product chief Todd Parsons to be the new CPO.

Despite Criteo’s $100 million Q2 setback, its market cap has benefitted. Shares had dropped to an all-time low of $6.38 in mid-March, before quarantines went into effect and online shopping skyrocketed. Even after a 7% drop during trading on Wednesday, Criteo stock closed the day at $12.88.

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