At the heart of any commercial and digital marketing strategy is the knowledge of the customer. It is essential to reach its main goal, to personalize its actions and thus to develop its activity. In the digital age, marketing now has many targeting solutions. Criteo, an advertising targeting expert and commerce media leader, uses technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), in-depth education and data to help advertisers and publishers improve their advertising targets and offer more personalized and useful offerings for prospects.
Dearmoid Gill, Critio’s Chief Technology Officer, discusses the new challenges companies face in advertising and targeting, and how Critio’s technological innovations are helping them meet them.
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Can you tell us about your background and your current role in Criteo?
I am from Ireland, but have been living in France since 2014 when I joined Critio as VP of Product Engineering Group. In 2019, I took on the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and led the entire R&D team. Today, the R&D team numbers about 550 people, mainly in Paris, Grenoble and Ann Arbor, with a few smaller teams in Bordeaux, Barcelona, London, Boston and Toronto.
Against the backdrop of cookie decline, privacy concerns, and first-party data growth, what have Critio’s technical challenges been in the last two or three years?
The changes that have taken place and are still being discussed about the future of user data have created and continue to challenge advertising technology providers. Our main concern has always been what is best for the entire ecosystem, such as marketers, media owners and Internet users (more generally, most people on the planet), all of whom are threatened by the effects of these changes.
Marketers run the risk of losing control over the effectiveness of their marketing spend and reducing it if they can no longer measure its impact. Media owners who rely on advertising revenue will have less money to invest in content creation and may have to resort to subscription or other revenue models, which means consumers have less choice when they shop and less free content for all Internet users.
From a technical point of view, in an environment where measurement and accuracy are important, those who have the most performing platforms have the opportunity to differentiate themselves, but also have the flexibility and agility needed to be able to adapt their systems. In the new situation.
During this time, we’ve focused on using the latest in-depth learning and neural network technologies to expand our offerings to include middle and high funnel viewer features at higher performance levels for which Critio has always been known. Our relationships with our customers give us access to first-party commercial data resources that are unique to the sector. In our view, state-of-the-art technology with quality data forms the basis of an extremely powerful platform.
How does AI drive personalization throughout the purchasing journey?
AI-driven engineering has been a part of Critio’s history since day one and is the key to our success. Criteo has a very strong partnership with clients and this deep integration allows us to deliver on our commitment to show the right product to the right person at the right time.
Using AI, we’ve been able to create an audience segment that marketers can use to raise awareness, increase engagement, increase sales, and build long-term brand loyalty. No other technology provider in the industry can deliver such performance at every stage of the purchasing journey, with the most accurate measure of ROAS on which all marketers rely.
For example, we use our expertise in natural language processing (NLP) to create a cookie-agnostic contextual solution on which we can overlay our business data and thus relate relevant signals to actual business outcomes that normal contextual analysis products cannot. . To do
How do you work with data to help brands better understand their customers?
Many famous brands around the world rely on other players, such as retailers, to sell their products. For example, brands often lack data that allows their customers to see big pictures, especially how they navigate their product purchase journey.
The data that brands receive is usually very fragmented and incomplete, which means they have a very partial view of their customers. Thanks to Creative’s close relationship with retailers and publishers, we can help brands reach the most relevant audiences with their products and, more importantly, provide accurate metrics where they can track the contribution of marketing investments to their online sales.
What are the major R&D challenges for the next few years?
The biggest challenge we face in technology – and that’s why I think it’s the best industry in the world – is the constant pressure to keep innovating. In technology, if you do not move, you will fall behind. It makes things extremely dynamic and so you have to constantly renew your knowledge. Challenges can take the form of regulatory or environmental changes that force you to adapt (hence the need for flexibility and agility), while technological advances, especially in the case of open source software, allow.
Other challenges are being adapted to new hybrid ways of working. While this phenomenon is not unique to R&D companies, the team-oriented nature of R&D work makes it a particular problem to solve. The days when the whole team was in the office five days a week are a thing of the past. I hope the teams will be made up of people who always want to come to the office every day, others who are happy to come to the office once or very rarely and many who want flexibility to choose.
It is crucial for leaders to make sure that we adapt to this new norm and that our work culture develops in such a way that each of these groups has a great work experience and does not feel the need to miss anything.