J.B. Rudelle is CEO of Criteo, a pay-per-click, personalized retargeting company.
AdExchanger.com: Why move into the U.S. market now?
JBR: Criteo spent 3 years focused on R&D, building the most robust and precise retargeting solution on the market. With almost 2 years of in market experience and over 400 customers successfully implementing our pay per click (see more) personalized retargeting solution in Europe, we realize there is an opportunity to bring a new level of retargeting to the US. Most of the US players are 18 months behind in terms of capabilities. We are excited to bring Criteo’s breakthrough technology to the US. In the few months we have started business here, we are already seeing great interest in our solution within the top 100 Internet retailers.
What problem(s) is Criteo solving?
Criteo enables online businesses to efficiently turn visitors who have left their website into customers through highly relevant personalized banners which drive potential customers back to the business website. With the highly efficient CPC model, Criteo brings scale to display retargeting advertising that was previously associated only in search marketing.
Over the past decade there has been a slow evolution of retargeting.
The most common, and simple form, is basic static retargeting in which a single static banner is shown to all viewers who have left a particular website.
In the past couple years, a number of retargeting specialists have introduced a slightly more complex form of segmented retargeting. This second generation of retargeting enables to display one of a few pre-created messages to lost visitors based on a particular browsing category they fall into.
Criteo is leading the retargeting revolution with the most sophisticated form of dynamic personalized retargeting. This third generation of retargeting enables an advertiser to show each lost visitor a unique banner based on his very specific past interactions on the advertiser’s website. This new form of retargeting involves on-the-fly real-time personalized banner creation and has a dramatic impact on campaign performances.
Why do you see CPC as better than a CPA model for retargeting? Is the view-through relevant in your estimation?
CPC is the most straight forward cost model for advertisers since they know exactly what they are paying for. This also enables advertisers to compare their efficiencies and ROI with paid search which has pioneered and proven the validity of the CPC model for several years now. At Criteo we do not consider any “view-though,” “mouse-over” or other “banner engagement” calculations which are highly controversial in their attribution models.
What advantage is there to building an advertising technology business in Europe? Any disadvantages?
Coming from Europe, makes us even more focused on integrating the highest levels of consumer privacy into our technologies and policies. We are proud to say that Criteo is the world’s leader in upholding consumer privacy in this space without sacrificing performance.
Who is responsible for the creative? I imagine that it has a big impact on CTR, and since you get paid via CPC but bid CPM on the exchanges, it must be an important factor.
Criteo offers its clients a “one-stop-shop” full-service solution which includes everything from customized creative, media buying and campaign optimization. We work with our clients to incorporate their brand look and feel into the banners. What is unique to Criteo banners is that each banner is dynamically populated with up to 10 product recommendations specific to the viewer of the banners. Since banners are created in real-time, they are constantly being optimized for the best CTRs.
How do you monitor click fraud? Is this a concern for Criteo?
For the majority of our clients, Criteo monitors results all the way through to conversion; therefore, we are constantly attentive to any fluctuations in click vs. conversion data which would immediately alert us to any type of fraud. As a result, we have not had any issues of this type in the past.
What is your target market? Any particular verticals, horizontals, big/small budgets, etc.?
Any website which drives an action and is interested in ROI can benefit from Criteo’s performance retargeting solution. Of course, the more unique site visitors a website has, the more efficient our solution will be in finding their lost prospects across the internet. We have had particular success with large retail and travel websites to date and are on-boarding a number of additional online business models with specialized retargeting solutions.
Isn't retargeting a commodity offering now? Especially now that Google has made it so easy and self-service?
Retargeting has been around for about 10 years now. And I suppose you could claim that basic static retargeting is indeed becoming a commodity since it is offered by so many players in the market today. However, Criteo’s ultimate level of personalized retargeting in a pure CPC model provides performance that cannot be matched by others in the market today.
Do you consider DSPs competitors to Criteo?
No. We are 100% specialized in retargeting, while DSPs have a much broader scope. As a result, we work as the retargeting partner for many different players in the market, including a number of DSPs.
Please discuss your current funding. Any plans to seek another round? Go public?
We have secured $17M in Series A & B funding in March 2006 and Jan 2008 respectively. At this stage, we have no need for any additional funding. However, in a very selective way, we might consider a couple of highly targeted US investors, if their specific expertise makes sense for our business.