Criteo Sees New Products And Growth In Data Cooperatives

Criteo on Friday released a suite of products, including audience matching and customer prospecting, as well as a new policy beginning in the fourth quarter to give buyers and DSPs impression-level transparency into every unit of inventory.

At the heart of Criteo’s string of product releases this year is a newfound willingness among retailers and brands to pool data, driven by Amazon’s majority share of all online commerce growth, said Criteo CEO Eric Eichmann.

The prospecting feature, called Customer Acquisition, targets consumers who haven’t visited a retailer or online merchant’s site. The product only works if sellers collaborate on online identities and shopper histories.

In beta tests for Customer Acquisition done in the UK, eight out of 10 retail and ecommerce clients who were asked to participate agreed to share customer interest data. The shared data can’t be used for direct conquesting but is pooled and fed into algorithms to identify broader shopper targeting trends – like whether a person tends to shop upscale fashion or athleisure or regularly buys kitchenware – and to improve the creative preferences for users in Criteo’s identity graph.

The identity graph, a cross-device data set that Criteo has compiled from clients who agree to share email contacts, like from loyalty programs or sign-ins, is the company’s core collective asset. Eichmann said 75% of Criteo’s 16,000 total merchants contribute to the identity graph.

The identity graph also powers Criteo’s new Audience Match onboarding service, which ingests emails from a brand or retail CRM, compares the data to Criteo’s email-based graph and then retargets matches by tracking online cookies.

In pilot campaigns, Criteo saw 60%-to-70% match rates for its onboarding service, which its senior VP of product, Patrick Wyatt, said is similar to platforms like Facebook and Pinterest that feature CRM matching.

Criteo’s cross-channel tracking capabilities, however, face headwinds.

For instance, Apple’s new Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) changed Safari’s cookie policy to give tech vendors only 24-hour access to first-party data and, in some cases, block access to first-party cookie data entirely.

Platforms like Facebook and Pinterest weather the changes more effectively because they tend be a daily or regular part of a person’s desktop and mobile activity, thus keeping cookie profiles refreshed. Retail or ecommerce sites probably aren’t a part of a user’s regular media diet and, for Criteo Safari users, will tend to turn back into pumpkins at the end of the day.

“We disagree with Apple’s approach on this,” Eichmann said, “but they’re a big player and can do what they want in their environment.”

Eichmann said Criteo is better positioned than its competitors to browser-based policy changes because it already has a scaled network of retailers and online sellers who include Criteo in their regular visitor opt-in requests.

“We’ve evolved over time according to policy changes for Apple environments in particular,” he said. “And we have ways of circumventing ITP.”

Criteo is also updating its ad policy to provide page-level details and pricing for every unit of inventory the company buys, a move Wyatt said will help woo more demand-side players to its market.

“We’re seeing more and more that full inventory logs is a box that trade desks or buyers just need to have checked on RFPs,” Wyatt said.

The Trade Desk in particular insists on full inventory transparency to buy supply, which is why the DSP doesn’t buy on Snapchat.

Adding the transparent inventory policy brings more data and visibility to the Criteo platform.

And the main trend in digital media budgets, Eichmann said, is toward platforms with scaled data that can offer scaled media.

“There are places like Amazon and Facebook that have that,” Eichmann. “But there are thousands of retailers and brands that have that potential collectively, if they’re open to it.”

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