The Criteo Commerce Marketing Ecosystem enables the vendor’s retail clients to share anonymized data sets that, when pooled with other merchants’ data, can bolster their ad targeting.

Criteo SA wants to convince retailers to share one of their valuable resources: the data they gather about their customers, which may include everything from shoppers’ email addresses to what they’ve bought in their stores.

The advertising technology vendor, which last week reported that it now has more than 16,000 commerce and brand clients, aims to collect that anonymized data in a cooperative it’s calling the Criteo Commerce Marketing Ecosystem.

The idea, says Jon Opdyke, Criteo’s president of brand solutions, is that by pooling together hundreds or thousands of retailers’ online and offline data the vendor can develop detailed customer profiles based on consumers’ actions. Those profiles can help better target consumers with ads than a retailer could on its own or even by using data and tools offered by Google or Facebook Inc. Criteo won’t store any personally identifiable information about consumers.

“We’re looking to shift the balance of power,” he says. “Consumers go to Amazon, Facebook and Google every day, which gives those sites access to a tremendous amount of data. Most retailers aren’t going to have access to that type of information about their customers, who might visit their sites every few months.”

The collective will produce far more valuable information than any one retailer or website can generate on its own. Given Amazon’s massive size, that’s increasingly important, Opdyke says. After all, Amazon is behind only Google.com, YouTube.com and Facebook.com among the most-visited websites in the United States, according to Amazon-owned traffic analysis vendor Alexa. EBay.com is ninth and Walmart.com ranks 34th.

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Data is power, Opdyke says, and the more data available to a retailer, the better inferences it, and Criteo, can make. After all, while a consumer may make two purchases at a toy retailer in a single year, the collective could let that merchant identify hundreds of purchases from that customer.

“We understand the sensitivity of data,” he says. “Data has to be secure. But in a world where data is boxed in, every data set is smaller, which makes it harder to put to use.”

By sharing data, a toy manufacturer could seek to reach parents with young children to present them with ads featuring toys they may be interested in. The collective could draw inferences from purchases that consumers made, even if those purchases were of children’s clothing or other items unrelated to toys. The collective could also help the manufacturer identify the shopper as a prospective “high-value” customer based on her online and offline actions on other websites.

“The most important thing we can do is to help retailers figure out who to value and who they should be reaching out to in their ads,” Opdyke says. “We believe that giving retailers access to more information can help them identify the right customers at the right time with the right message.”

While vendors such as Oracle Corp.-owned BlueKai offer similar data management platforms, Criteo believes it’s large scale can offer retailers unique advantages.

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“We intend to build the highest performing and open commerce marketing ecosystem for retailers and brands,” said CEO Eric Eichmann, during a conference call with analysts. “Our massive pool of shopper data, large scale networks and world-class performance-driven technology make us the ideal commerce marketing partner in this highly dynamic market.”

Criteo is also looking to use the pooled data to build a tool similar to Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences and Google’s Similar Audiences tools that let a brand target shoppers who share traits and behaviors to a merchant’s existing customer base. At the same time, Criteo is testing a store-to-web retargeting campaign tool that links retailers’ point-of-sale system data with an online cookie.

For the second quarter ended June 30, Criteo reported:

  • Revenue of $542.0 million, up 33.1% from $407.2 million during the same period last year.
  • Net income of $7.5 million, down 43.6% from $13.3 million.
  • 16,370 clients, up 37.9% from 11,874.

For the first half of the year, Criteo reported:

  • Revenue of $1.509 billion, up 86.6% from $808.5 million during the same period last year.
  • Net income of $22.0 million, down 31.0% from $31.9 million.

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