Can we trust GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Amazon) to make room for other players in the world of digital advertising? Considering the experience of French Criteo, the answer is no. In two and a half years, the retargeting champion – which allows advertising on the screen of a surfer to advertise products he has learned about before – has multiplied the misadventures with the leaders of Silicon Valley .
First with Apple, which, from 2017, drastically reduced the access of advertising professionals to the navigation information of users of its Safari browser. Then with Facebook which, in July 2018, withdrew its privileged partner status – a decision that the company decided to attack before the Competition Authority. And now Google is embarking on the same path as Apple …
“An electric shock”
But Criteo is now better prepared to face this test. Three years ago, the change imposed by Apple “Was extremely brutal”, “An electroshock”, remembers Jean-Baptiste Rudelle, the president and founder of the company. The apple firm's decision has indeed highlighted the weaknesses of the French model, based on the sole use of third-party cookies which have long made it possible to discreetly track the online behavior of users (but whose presence must now be notified to users). This dependence cost him dearly: since May 2017, the group has lost 75% of its market value … and its status as a unicorn (these start-ups valued at more than a billion dollars).
Since this earthquake, Criteo has evolved its model. “We are in the midst of transformation”, says Rudelle, who explains that the company “Is working on a migration to new technologies [que le cookie tiers] “. In particular to feed its database of more than two billion Internet users, which allows it to provide targeted quality advertising. According to him, this is a “Colossal investment”.
The effort is slow to pay
Even though retargeting still constitutes the bulk of its turnover, Criteo has developed a whole range of new services in recent months. But the effort is slow to pay. In 2019, sales fell 2% to $ 2.6 billion (2.4 billion euros) and management anticipates a worsening of this trend in 2020 (- 10%). Net profit for the past year is $ 91 million.