The U.S. officially gains another retargeting company Thursday. Criteo has moved its headquarters from Paris, France to Palo Alto, Calif., bringing with it a performance-based cost-per-click (CPC) advertising model and advanced European privacy features.
JB Rudelle -- chief executive officer, who cofounded the company in 2005, along with two ex-Microsoft "technical geniuses" -- supports more than 400 customers worldwide, including several hundred ecommerce brands. The company, which just began supporting companies in the U.S. like AllPosters.com, boasts serving up about 4 billion retargeted ad impressions per month. In Europe, Criteo retargets ads for Expedia and Dell, and U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer.
Experience gained in Europe puts Criteo ahead of the U.S. market in terms of protecting consumer privacy, Rudelle says. "We have been working in countries like Germany, which is probably the most demanding country in the world when it comes to privacy," he says. "We put a direct opt-out link on all retargeting display banners in Europe, and hope to bring this feature into the U.S. market."
More than 95% of consumers leave ecommerce Web sites without making a purchase, taking an average of five visits before becoming a spending customer, according to data from Criteo.
Not having an ability to integrate even 1% of leads from incoming traffic through retargeting kept many of the older retargeting platforms in mothballs. As expected, U.S. online ad spending dipped last year for the first time since the 2001-2002 recession -- dropping 3.4% from $23.5 billion in 2008 to $22.7 billion in 2009, according to year-end data released Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. After running flat for most of last year, ad spending in the fourth quarter saw a seasonal lift, increasing 14% from $5.5 billion in the third quarter to $6.3 billion -- the most in any quarter to date.
Criteo's technology can scale quickly, and integrates with Google's ad-server technology, either Doublick for Advertisers, or Doubleclick for Publishers. Rudelle says Criteo's technology drops a cookie in the Web browser to find them when they return. Advertisers only get charged if someone clicks on the banner that brings them back to the company's Web site. It takes about half a day to integrate the technology for a client, he says.
Rudelle says the industry offers three different types of retargeting models, pointing to Google's retargeting platform as a simple "plug-and-play" solution that could augment Criteo's offering. Google recently announced a retargeting offering.
Driving the company's U.S. expansion plans, Karen Dayan comes to Criteo as vice president of marketing from Microsoft. She has 14 years of international experience in data-driven product marketing and program development. Jeff Mills assumes the role of vice president of strategic partnerships, bringing more than 13 years of marketing, sales and leadership experience at leading internet companies, including Yahoo and SideStep.