Staying ahead isn't just focusing on this year, but 3-5 years out: Criteo’s Sherry Smith

In recent years, the landscape of commerce media has undergone a remarkable transformation. In conversation with Adgully, Sherry Smith, General Manager - Global Enterprise, Criteo, provides insights into this evolving industry; the journey Criteo has embarked upon, highlighting significant growth in both the number of retailers they collaborate with and their global presence; Criteo’s expansion into regions like EMEA and the exciting prospects in APAC and much more…

Highlighting about how the commerce media has evolved in the past few years, Sherry Smith said, “When we started, we had about 150 retailers, now we are well over 200 retailers that we work with. We’ve certainly grown the number of retailers that we work with, we’ve grown globally as well. We have a much larger footprint in EMEA now and certainly expanding in APAC, which is really exciting, India being a core market. Now, we’re seeing retailers look at a total retail media ecosystem and really expand that. Thinking about onsite and then offsite and their data and those data sets, but also now omnichannel, so they’re really thinking about it more holistically and that customer journey across everything. It has definitely evolved over the last couple of years tremendously.”

About onsite and offsite advertising, she said, “We work with a retailer very much, we give them options and we’re constantly looking at how we increase their fill rate. What should we be doing with their CPCs during seasonal peaks, and that’s a very different approach, versus display, we look at different ad formats and creative, and that’s where we’re moving more towards video. Thinking about the onsite experience, making it much richer, thinking about converting that customer, but really educating that customer – it’s more of that consumer education along the way.”

Continuing further, Smith said, “With offsite, it is being able to leverage that data and how does that retailer want to leverage their data, because there are different degrees of that. Some are really very much willing to share that data and allow non-endemic brands to be able to execute off of that data, others want to manage it more closely. They want to keep it very connected, keep it just within endemic for now; they’re also looking at different ways to execute that off site. For that, it’s about that publisher mix, as you think about the SSPs that they could work with, who are the right SSPs to work with and how do they execute that and do it effectively. Each one is very different in how you approach, we try to really educate the retailers.”

Criteo is in its third year of its six-year transformation journey. When asked about how these three years have been for Criteo and how do they plan to grow further, Smith replied, “We very much are approaching this from a build by partner. We have well over 900 engineers that are working constantly on our technology and our stack, and I’m so proud we get to work with the best of the best and this is what they focus on every day.”

Adding further about Criteo’s roadmap, she noted, “We have an extensive roadmap about three years, where we’re prioritising and thinking about how we want to continue to shape and evolve the industry. We’ve done quite a bit of M&A as well, whether it’s acquiring Mabaya from a marketplace to service our retail partners, to acquiring Gradient Insights, that’s all of the digital shelf insights, to most recently Brandcrush, which is omnichannel, there are some things that are actually faster and better for us to be able to acquire and to add and integrate into our stack and bring in that right talent to do that. We are thinking about it definitely, holistically and across online and offline and thinking about in-store.”

She further added, “The other is the partner – we actually want to make sure that we bring in the right partners. Whether it’s working with an IAS for standardisation or working with a company like Firework, who specialise day in and day out on video, we might be building on our platform as well, but that’s not our core capability and we want to give our retail partners that capability to bring in the right partnerships as well to augment what we are doing. That’s the way that we approach the retail media landscape, which is the build-by-partner approach.”

About the difference in consumer behaviour in India and globally, Smith shared, “When you think about e-commerce, it is such a small part, it’s 8% of the total sales, but it is growing the fastest. The US is more, around 16% average, but India is growing so quickly when it comes to the e-commerce sites.”

“However, some of the conversations that we’ve been having this week have been very focused on the omnichannel customer. And that’s why we’re so excited that we can actually come with that kind of conversation. Now that might be where India really wants to start, that is with Omni first and then think about the online. That’s where we can test and learn and do some really good things together. I think India is also fantastic in terms of technology, there may be ways that we augment this technology with what we have and that’s where we want to be very flexible to work with different partners as well,” Smith remarked.

Sharing about how Criteo stays ahead of the curve, Smith said, “We’ve been studying this for a while and I think it definitely is a combination of the core technology that we’re utilising and that transparency that we’re providing, the AI that we have that backs up all of what we do. For us, part of the way that we stay ahead isn’t just focusing on this year, it’s thinking about three to five years out, where is it going to go, we’re thinking down there, not just right here. Keeping your eyes very focused on where you’re going to go has really helped us stay ahead. A lot of the work that we do is, even though we don’t charge for this, but it’s consulting, it’s advising and guiding, coupled with customising, as not one size fits all. It starts with tech, but people are behind all of that, I’d say we have just phenomenal people and I’m really proud of the company and how we approach it.”


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