Criteo’s self-service platform places ads across retailer e-commerce sites

Dive Brief:

  • Online ad platform Criteo started a self-service portal that lets marketers buy media placements on retailer websites to reach online shoppers. The Criteo Retail Media platform will let retailers and advertisers deliver personalized ads without the need for third-party cookies, per an announcement.
  • Criteo estimates that brands will spend $15 billion to $25 billion a year advertising on e-commerce websites and apps, generating additional revenue for retailers. Its Retail Media platform will support vendor marketing programs, search and national media campaigns and targeting capabilities for brands, per its announcement.
  • The Criteo Retail Media platform is now available to marketers in the U.S. and Canada, and will expand to Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions this year, per its announcement.

Dive Insight:

Criteo’s launch of a self-serve platform to buy ad placements on retailers’ websites comes as more marketers seek ways to reach consumers when they’re most ready to shop. The coronavirus pandemic has driven a surge in e-commerce sales as homebound consumers shop online, a habit that many analysts forecast will last after the health crisis subsides and brick-and-mortar stores gradually reopen. The shift in shopping habits will support the efforts of marketers that run campaigns on retailer websites in the longer term.

The launch of a retail media ad sales platform is another sign of how Criteo is preparing for the discontinued use of third-party cookies. The data files sit on web browsers, helping to track consumers as they visit different websites and to enable ad retargeting. However, stricter data-sharing laws and heightened consumer concerns about privacy are limiting the use of third-party cookies. Apple and Google, which make two of the most popular web browsers, have gotten behind the effort to limit the use of third-party cookies. Apple three years ago introduced intelligent tracking prevention in its Safari browser, hurting Criteo’s revenue from ad retargeting, while Google this year announced plans to phase out third-party cookies in the next couple of years. Criteo’s Retail Media platform can help to grow ad sales that rely on first-party data collected by retailers, which have rich data sets about customer purchasing history. That information can be harnessed for improved ad targeting on retailer websites.

Criteo didn’t announce which retailers are selling ad space through its platform, though its website lists Best Buy, CVS Pharmacy, Macy’s and Target as official partners, Adweek reported. While the pandemic has dampened demand for digital advertising in the short term, retailers are setting the stage for ad sales growth that monetizes their higher web traffic. Alongside the growing advertising power of AmazonCVS Pharmacy, InstacartKrogerTarget and Walmart have developed advertising operations to connect brands with shoppers. 

Before the pandemic dampened demand, the U.S. online ad market had been forecast to grow by 15% to $166.4 billion this year, per the Winterberry Group. It’s difficult to predict how the health crisis will affect ad spending for the remainder of the year, though agencies and brand marketers expect to resume or ramp up their marketing efforts in the next few months, per an Advertiser Perceptions survey cited by eMarketer. As that media spending resumes, retailers can participate in the rebound by expanding their online ad sales efforts.

Retailers’ expanded ad sales efforts has made them more direct competitors with giants like Google and Facebook in the multibillion-dollar market for digital advertising. The threat from e-commerce sites that sell advertising, especially Amazon, has pushed Facebook and Google to expand their shopping features in the past few years. Retailers have an opportunity to build revenue from display ads and from search, taking a page from Amazon’s strategy playbook. Some marketers have reportedly shifted as much as 50% to 60% of their search budgets from Google to Amazon in recent years. The e-commerce giant has become the most popular starting point for product searches as well, per researcher Jumpshot.

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