Criteo plans to roll out Tuesday a self-service cost-per-click (CPC) bidding platform that lets advertisers place bids on display retargeting campaigns and see changes and optimize campaigns in real-time. While the concept seems innovative, it's not clear whether advertisers will adapt to the change.
The Criteo Performance Optimization Platform, available for free to its roughly 700 companies, allows display advertisers and agencies to define retargeting campaigns based on category. The Criteo platform enables advertisers to bid a different CPC per product category. Think Google AdWords for display retargeting ads.
The platform, designed similar to Google AdWords, hopes to attract search and ad display marketers who feel comfortable enough to give Criteo's performance display platform a spin. Advertisers can set up any number of custom categories, set and adjust CPC bids, and control the cost of sales by category.
Controlling separate categories for high- or low-margin categories enables advertisers to set CPCs prices based on the return on investment (ROI) goals. Criteo wants to bring the self-service bid model seen in search and display advertising to retargeting.
Dillon Smith, the eMarketing and social media manager at Golfsmith International, has been testing the platform for about two weeks. Although Criteo is the second retargeting company Smith has worked with, it's the first to offer a CPC model based on display ad retargeting. "We are very much an ROI-driven company and comfortable with paid search, so approaching the retargeting with a CPC model makes it easy to digest and accept," he says.
The benefits reside in retargeting display based on CPC bidding. "It's an intelligent system because you're tracking Web site visitors on the site and when they leave the site," Smith says.
While it depends on the company's campaign goals, Karen Dayan, Criteo VP of marketing, explains that advertisers now have options to generate more impressions that drive sales, as long as they are willing to give up some cost of sales (CoS) for ROI. Or the advertiser might want to get tight on CoS and bring down the CPC.
In the past, advertisers could adjust CPCs, but through an account manager. Advertisers can now make changes online. They can adjust bids and have them appear online in real-time. It also offers a reporting dashboard to view campaigns based on time and metrics such as clicks, impressions or cost of sales.
It took a few months to draw out the concept, and another several months to build the platform, estimates Dayan. The results provide a platform that enables advertisers to experiment with CPC bids similar to the way they might with Google AdWords.
Another feature, Acquisition Funnel Management, allows advertisers set up set up sub-campaigns based on where the consumer falls in the acquisition funnel, from never buying product on the site to frequent buyer. And the Budget Renewal Tool allows advertisers to monitor and replenish the campaign budget as needed to keep campaigns running smoothly.
Combining two existing marketplaces that have been around for years could provide an interesting model in the long run, agrees Kirsten Mangers, co founder and CEO at WebVisible, which provides search marketing services.
Criteo serves more 4 billion unique ads monthly on about 900 publisher sites, but could not provide insight from any advertisers testing the platform.