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Advertisers should look beyond the walled garden of Google and Facebook, says Stewart Emerson of Criteo

In an interaction with, the Global Product Marketing Director at Criteo discusses how ‘the open internet’, with a user base equivalent to FB and Google, offers quality content and data. He shares how Criteo is developing solutions for its clients to track, re-target, and re-engage customers

Stewart Emerson

At a time most advertisers and marketers are spending dollars on either Facebook or Google to directly engage with the audience, there are a few who are moving towards the rest of the internet world.

As the two giant platforms, or the walled gardens, have trouble in maintaining full transparency in their digital measurements, multiple advertisers have come out to tap the undiscovered opportunity present in ‘the open internet’ to get a clearer picture of the data inventory.

But is that inventory efficient and measurable enough? Would this shift from walled to open give brands an opportunity to build a direct relationship with customers, which they were otherwise finding hard to build? What all solutions would help brands?

At an event hosted by Criteo in Thailand’s Chiang Mai, Stewart Emerson, Global Product Marketing Director, Criteo, explained how the open internet can be an opportunity for advertisers to bet on. He discussed how the platform is providing solutions to brands to access the inventory outside the walled gardens, shedding some light on how to re-target and re-engage the existing customers.

“There has been a decline in the number of subscribers and the user base of Facebook. There are marketers refraining themselves from these big platforms, including Google, because they do not get the granular data sets. Marking their own territory, they do not have the third-data party verification as well. There is an incredible quality data that sits outside on the open internet, where users are interested in exploring, and marketers should use them, to understand the exact consumer journey,” Emerson told BestMediaInfo.

Every publisher, retailer and brand website that isn’t behind a walled garden is part of the open internet, he said. The open internet is where just as many consumers spend their time. Quoting Criteo’s App Commerce Goes Big in Asia-Pacific study, he said digital ad spend on open internet is 30% and 70% on Google or Facebook, whereas 50% of the users are on the open internet. So, the open internet can actually be a primary discovery tool for new brands, especially in the APAC region where its penetration is higher.

“We have a multi-solution platform for the open internet, which unleashes our clients’ data potential. A full-funnel display solution, which we offer to advertisers, and agencies that can drive any performance and a self-service programmatic platform, which enables retailers to offer ad placements for their digital properties,” he said.

Criteo works on marketers’ challenges and provides the solutions with a unified platform that aims to achieve customers’ KPIs, along with all mobile-first formats with its AI, machine learning technology. Working along with internet retailers’ base of 19,500 clients, it serves personalised online display ads to users, to re-target and re-engage them.

The platform, over the years, has built huge datasets in collaboration with its clients and is further evolving into asset capabilities. Taking those core assets, it is expanding through consideration, conversion and awareness. Helping people to actively consider the products and services, it encourages people to make that final purchase. And then through awareness, it focuses on driving brand awareness through standard display banners, closing the loop of the consumer journey.

The whole core functionalities of the agency sit within the final product recommendations, dynamic pricing, optimisation technology, and predictive bidding.

When asked if using consumer data sets available with retailers does not invade the privacy of customers, Emerson said, “We typically use the hash version of the email addresses, so that we can then identify that particular user on the particular device or browser with that address. With such a base of retailers, we can track the customer journey to re-target and re-engage them. If the customer does not wish to receive anything, we opt them out completely.  Our clients make it clear to their consumers in their privacy statements that we're going to be utilising their hash addresses. We do not hold any personally identifiable information.” 

Differentiating the customers of APAC with the rest of the West, Emerson said with mobile becoming more and more popular, APAC is very advanced in ad usage. Emerson quoted how in the studies they found out that the mobile transactions account for 75% of all transactions in APAC with 51% taking place in the mobile app environment compared to mobile web, which is 24%. This offers a major opportunity for retail shopping apps.

The advertising platform has also launched Criteo App Install in the same region, creating a ‘full-funnel’ mobile solution that gives marketers the ability to reach and acquire new customers, re-engage lapsed ones, and re-target existing customers.

How marketers’ role is evolving with the market:

But with all these solutions, how well are the marketers ready and prepared to fully understand the complexities of martech?

Emerson pressed on the multiple natures of channels, and how data is changing the whole market scenario, along with the role of marketers. With brands still trying to build a connection with their consumers, he said some of the basic rules have been changed. 

“With brands pushing influencers, to review their products, on their own websites or the third-party websites, creativity and technology, everything has to be merged together. Brand image has to be presented in a really sophisticated way because what people say about you has become more important than what you yourself say about it. And this is because brand experience has changed with digital and technology,” he said.  

And this all has led to marketers to be more educated on and about data. He said marketers need to understand the technology and should work closely with the chief information officers to understand their business well.

“A CMO now has to work hand in glove with the CIO. Previously, marketers were far more focused on the creative elements, always very concerned about the consumer, but they had to be less aware of technology and perhaps slightly less aware of really big data. Whereas now, I think the ownership of data is the new goal. Only if you can understand how to use it, you can make decisions,” he added.

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