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How sophisticated predictive technology meets demands of advertisers

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Browsing an ecommerce site has become a national pastime but 98 per cent of the visitors in India leave the site without making a transaction. This phenomenon has led to the rise of concepts such as Retargeting or Performance Display which are catching on fast, proving to be effective in bringing customers back. Criteo, the performance advertising organisation that has its roots in France has been perfecting its cost-per-click model, making ROI transparent and easy to measure since its inception in 2005. It measures value purely on post-click sales. Sophisticated predictive technology which processes a vast amount of rich purchase-intent data in real time helps the company deliver dynamically-created personalised ads. On one of her visits to India, the Managing Director of Criteo, Southeast Asia, Yuko Saito, spoke to Rashi Bisaria about how Criteo meets the needs of demanding advertisers, making its results do the talking. Edited excerpts:

Put simply, what does Criteo do?
We specialise in dynamic retargeting. This is synchronised retargeting. We are a huge data company that collects lots of information about users and their online behaviour. Based on predictive analysis we create personalised ads. This means we target users with information they are looking for.

What is the kind of technology you use?
We have the Recommendation engine and a Prediction engine. Through the Prediction engine we are able to track user behaviour and since we work with multiple publishers, we know which users are likely to convert and their preferences for products. Based on all this information, the engine decides and cherry picks the best users and best placements to deliver the best performance. Then there is the Dynamic Creative. Once the engine determines which users to show the banners to and what message to show on the banner, it is dynamically rated on the fly, in a second. The beauty of it is that by taking in as much data as possible, the engine decides what is best by itself. As it learns over time, the recommendations and decisions by the engine get better. Based on these three combinations we are able to deliver better and achieve better conversion.

Can you share what kind of clients you have?
Aigle, a globally well-known outdoor wear company is one of our clients. After we started working together Aigle’s client base has risen by 25 per cent. We also have Acommerce, a Thailand-based end-to-end ecommerce enabler, providing a wide range of services from performance marketing, advertising, email marketing, websites and IT systems, logistics, and customer services. We helped them achieve an 84 per cent drop in their Cost per Acquisition (CPA). They also saw an increase in revenue by eight times.

Most of our clients are from the e-commerce sector especially e-tailers, online travel or classifieds.

In India, how many brands are you working with and what kind of penetration have you had till now?
India is still a relatively new market for us but we do have about twenty clients currently and we do work with some of the leading companies. Traditionally, we have been dealing with travel because India’s travel market is on a surer footing than ecommerce. We are working with some international clients like Expedia. Travel sites have been very important clients for us. Within travel there can be many streams. It could be an online travel agency focusing on flights or hotels. We also work with airline, railways, cruise packages which are all very different and unique. Different categories within travel also have different information that is important to users. We have a wide ranging experience and make sure that all aspects are covered.

Can you name some of the publishers you are working with?
We are working with players like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Adnexus by Microsoft, etc. which have huge ad platforms. It’s almost like trading stock exchange, but in this case it is trading advertising inventory. The different publishers have many pages and the top page matters the most for companies to put up their advertising. Top media players attach more value to this. Media has a lot of remnant inventory. The inventory, which they cannot sell or is not top page worthy, is usually thrown into the net exchange and is put up for bidding, where the highest bidder gets the information. Criteo is one of the largest writers of the different Ad exchanges.

We also work with local, dedicated people who develop a direct relationship with local publishers. We are currently working with a set of publishers to get direct access and priority before they send it to ad exchanges. This way we get a little more priority and deliver better quality.

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