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We’ve an amazing opportunity for programmatically enabled retail media: Brian Gleason

Criteo, the commerce media company, recently announced the launch of a video advertising solution in India. Criteo’s video advertising solution helps achieve measurable outcomes by superior capabilities with unique audiences, robust access and scale with 600+ premium online video publishers, full-funnel management, and full-service support.

Opportunities with video ads are blooming in India, with video viewing forecasted to reach 512 million viewers by 2025. Criteo’s recent Shopper Story report also revealed that many Indian consumers own and actively use at least two internet-enabled devices every week including cable/satellite TV subscription (40%), OTT media (39%) and Connected TV Device (30%). The rise of the internet of things (IoT) provides more touchpoints to connect and engage with users, shifting them to take a hybrid path to purchase.

In an exclusive interview with Adgully, Brian Gleason, Chief Revenue Officer, Criteo, speaks at length about their new in-app video in India, trends in e-commerce, and much more.

How are you spreading more brand awareness about Criteo in India?

Criteo is a well-known brand because of our history. We have been around since 2005 to a point we have been transforming over the last three years, trying to do much more to bring general awareness to not only what Criteo means for our clients but what it means in specific regions and how we can enable and push forward. In events like this today, we are hosting ten of our top clients and giving an overview of the road map of our direction. Two days ago, we had a Customer Advisor Report, which we held in Singapore for our clients from India, Japan, Korea, Australia, to not only speak to them, but listen to them in terms of what we can do specifically and globally we make a lot of effort to make sure that over sharing that Criteo story. If you look at our ambition, it’s really to become the leader in commerce media, which is the third wave of digital. I think commerce is the next evolution. The good news is there is a lot of interest in terms of what we are doing and how we help ourselves forward. Specifically for India, we will continue to do more events like this.

What is the difference that you observed in the past few years in the consumer behaviour in India and globally as well?

Obviously the pandemic completely changed consumer behaviour. It was a forced change where we could not go out to the established brick and mortar stores the way we normally did. Whether there were restrictions on how far we can travel, or if they were even open, forced us to go online and now we have seen a hybrid approach, specifically for India, from the trends we have seen, we still have a large portion of individuals going to brick and mortar stores. Sometimes they go to the stores but buy online. We will see that continue to evolve even globally. I do think we are seeing more traffic going to the stores at the beginning of this year. When people went back to work, they went to the stores, and I think this hybrid mode will continue to evolve overtime.

Why was India specifically chosen for Criteo’s new Technology Operations and Analytics Center and not countries like Korea or China which have advanced technologies?

India is at such a point of intervention, scale, interests, energy, unlike any other country in the world in a positive way, where you can see trends with each region being different. For us at Criteo, we felt like it was the highest concentration of talent that we can possibly access and we wanted to build around that. When we were launching our technology, we also felt like this was just the beginning, the original hub is set up to scroll all over Asia and I could see plans down the line when we broaden that out for global expansion to be built in India. The other things are the education, energy and passion of the people that are on ground and the ability to scale quickly as we built.

You also launched Video Advertising Solution in India. How is that panning out?

It is turning out very well. We have over 225 million daily active users in India. A large percentage of them are females with around 65% females. So, we have been able to engage with those individuals, while they are in the discovery phase of in commerce and  to reach them because again the feel of a video is very different from a display ad. But by linking the experience of a video in an intelligent way, within the consumer journey, we have seen some results. I think it will be the first of many innovations that we bring to market in India.

Are there any brands that you have tied up with for this?

For instance, Flipkart was an amazing opportunity for us. It is an incredibly impressive organisation. I think in two ways. One is the marketplace they have opened up, the ability to bring all of these different merchants at scale in one environment. It is very impressive unlike anything we have seen from a volume standpoint in other parts of the world. The next step is how do I help those merchants, how do I drive new customers into those environments, how do I acquire and retain consumers. Working very closely with Flipkart, using our recommendation, and our sharper graph, is an incredible partnership. It’s a first of a kind relationship, innovating more with Flipkart and I think it is changing the entire thing about how retail media will look going forward.

What are the trends that you are observing in retail media and e-commerce?

Retail media is a massive business in terms of what we have seen for our personal business growing roughly 50% YOY globally. I think you will continue to see that moving forward. The exciting thing about retail media is that it is opening up new opportunities for brands to engage with consumers at the point of purchase. And the biggest advantage for the brands is measurement. They see exactly how their media is performing in a closed loop environment and for us we want to be the enabler of the tech platform to make that happen. I think we are just at the beginning stages. E-commerce will continue to evolve, with such an upswing, in terms of buying online. We are probably now going to see a hybrid type of situation, between e-commerce and physical stores, just like we are in our daily lives balancing between going to the office and working at home. When we think about e-commerce, we think about convenience, and it just gets easier and easier every year to buy online and it gets more personal for our own experiences. We have to figure out which stores we use for what. The question is how I’m using our marketplace or how I’m using my favourite store and what is that relationship like.

When a brand comes to you, what is the best suggestion that you would like to give to market its products and expand its portfolio to everyone?

I think for brands, the one common characteristic that they are all looking for is growth. And they are also looking for engagement, and when I think about retail media, I can’t think of a better opportunity to find growth in the sense that new media opportunity exactly at the point of purchase, with measurement capabilities, that are not seen with any other media form and the brands that I have seen innovating and pushing different types of format, whether it be video, whether it be off site capabilities, that are the ones that are truly succeeding in that space. It is about understanding one retail environment vs the other. Our ambition is to bring simplicity to that fragmentation at Criteo. We have 150 top global retailers in the world, and with relationships with Flipkart in India we are expanding.

How do you see connected TV as a medium and where do you think it will grow in the coming years?

If you look at different markets, India is different from the UK, which is different from Korea, because you look at traditional linear television, content channels, I think we are seeing a change around the world. Some markets really advance, some markets don’t. Connected TV as a whole is going to be the norm. We use these devices everyday, it’s a part of our lives. How we engage with content on those devices is interesting. We have to continue to figure out the ad formats, like you saw the announcement from Netflix. The cost to produce content is an all time high and we have seen massive investments on these platforms take shape, whether it be Disney, Netflix, and there has to be a value exchange, between advertising and format and the content. There is a massive opportunity that will continue to scale.

Programmatic in terms of retail media, it's not programmatically enabled in most situations. We have an amazing opportunity for programmatically enabled retail media. But again it brings fish into the sea, in terms of how we buy, and also there is complexity, because of more and more formats. We will see it evolve, it cannot just be Google and Facebook, there are going to other formats and platforms to help this along the journey.

How do you see e-commerce growing in the coming years as people are buying and selling everything online?

The biggest and most exciting thing about e-commerce is how the small to medium sized vendors participate in this. Now I think we will see more innovation around small- and mid-sized businesses, whether it be a global or regional retailer, start to take advantage of ecommerce. Because these companies are hopping into e-commerce. There are different sides to the equation – How do I maintain the business side ie ship the product? What is the return policy? To the enablement of the advertising that Criteo plays a role in. I think we are going to see more innovations around where do we shop, where do we consume. I still like to go into a store and try something on, and a lot of stores now don’t have the instock. We still have to bring the experience back and figure that out.

What is the road ahead for Criteo?

Criteo continues to lead the evolution of commerce media. Commerce media is two things – its performance marketing, customer acquisition and retention, and its retail monetization. We want to continue to innovate, build with the best retailers around the world. I can’t wait to build those relationships and bring them to life.

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