Criteo Readying Cross-device Attribution Solution

Criteo Jon Buss
Buss: “Advertisers…will put in a small amount and get out a huge amount of value”

Ad tech firm Criteo is working on a cross-device attribution solution based on email addresses pooled by its advertiser clients. The company works with 6,500 advertisers (and 7,000 publishers) and has invited its advertisers to pool email address data and then share the pooled data, in order to identify the same user accessing their website across multiple devices. The company is readying the solution for launch before the end of the year.

“Advertisers will give us the email addresses anonymously, these will be encrypted and sit in the cloud and turned into a key,” Criteo’s UK MD, Jon Buss, told Mobile Marketing. “The advertisers are pooling their data; they will put in a small amount and get out a huge amount of value.”

There are two approaches to the cross-device attribution problem. The first is a user login, where Facebook and Google are deemed to have a clear advantage. The second is where the user’s identify is inferred with reference to their online activity. Drawbridge is probably the best-known proponent of the inferred method. It uses statistical methods that rely on anonymous data to track people as they move between their smartphones, tablets and PCs, identifying the same user across their various connected devices, with an 85 per cent degree of confidence (according to Drawbridge) by viewing user activity through ad requests. Drawbridge’s ‘Connected Consumer Graph’ currently includes 1.1bn consumers across 2.6bn devices.

Criteo’s plans are a clear acknowledgement that it favours the login approach. “Most people are going down the inferred route because it’s easy and low cost, but 85 per cent does not work for us because if you are serving the wrong ads to 15 per cent of your users you will get too many false positives,” Buss told us. “The advertiser would be wasting money, so we needed something absolutely accurate and we have the scale and the volume of clients to build the cloud of linkage data.”

Criteo certainly has scale. The company has grown from 50 to 1200 people in the last five years, and is on a revenue run rate of $1bn for the current financial year to the end of December. Its focus is on retargeting consumers with relevant offers based on a decisioning engine which makes half a million calculations per second on whether to serve a given user an ad, and if so, what product to serve the ad for.