Criteo Q1 results chart rise of mobile and social as performance channels for travel

Criteo Q1 results chart rise of mobile and social as performance channels for travel

Performance marketing platform Criteo saw mobile business breach the critical 50% threshold last quarter, underlining why travel firms must have cross-device insight.

Speaking to Travolution after Criteo issued a three month trading update to March 31, chief executive Eric Eichmann said there are relatively few transactions on mobile in travel.

However, he said Criteo figures show 85% of travel transactions involve multiple online sessions and that these are unlikely to all be on the same device.

Criteo’s quarterly update also reflected growing interest in Facebook with 5,000 clients now integrated with the social network’s Dynamic Product Ads on mobile and desktop.

Eichmann said due to the way the sector has embraced mobile, travel was well-placed to exploit channels like social, although a return on investment is not guaranteed.

“If you look at our Travel Flash Report 2015 24% of travel bookings were on mobile in the UK. Overall mobile transactions were 40% for the UK.

“It seems from that perspective there are fewer transactions happening on mobile in travel, but having said that 85% of travel bookings involve multiple sessions.

“Forty per cent of transactions involve multiple devices, so you have to take account of the true value of mobile.

“There’s certainly been a wide adoption of apps in travel, much more than in retail and there’s a sense that travel has led the way in terms of apps.”

Eichmann said while many apps in travel are utility – like allowing airline customers to check-in – and not transactional, there’s no reason why bookings won’t happen on mobile.

“We have looked at what transactions take place on mobile and it’s not associated with price. People are transacting at high value in retail.

“The travel booking process tends to take longer and involves more people so when you are ready to book it’s not as spontaneous as in retail.

“In retail it’s not such a considered purchase so in travel maybe people feel more comfortable in a desktop environment.”

With mobile expected to have played a significant role in many travel purchases, Eichmann said it was vital to have a cross-device strategy.

He said Criteo is now achieving a 40% rate of customers matched between different devices due to the data it can access from its large global network of advertisers.

“One thing that’s very important is being able to rely on a string device graph for tracking customers across device. We have been investing in that technology and deployment.”

Criteo’s first quarter trading highlights:

• Revenue increased 36% to $401 million
• Revenue excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs (media buying) increased 37% to $162 million
• In EMEA Revenue excluding Traffic Acquisition Costs (ex-TAC) was up 26% to $68 million
• Net income increased 36% to $19 million
• Adjusted EBITDA (a measure of profitability) grew 54% to $49.9 million, 12.2% of revenue
• Clients generated 21% more revenue (ex-TAC)
• Net rise in clients was 760, the second largest quarterly rise in the company’s history

Chief executive, Eric Eichmann said: “We are making advertising accountable to performance metrics through innovation and technology.”

Criteo claims to be seeing genuine return on investment from its Facebook Dynamic Product Ads integration, Eichmann saying this is helping the site to prove itself commercially.

“It’s taken a while to come of age and to see some real performance improvements. A lot of companies have been approached directly by Facebook with the promise of performance.

“But because they were not using a powerful engine performance was a bit like display in the past. “We have had 400 engineers working on this over the past 10 years and we built a relationship with them and been plugged into DPA to use the power of the Criteo engine.

On Facebook people are not necessarily actively looking for flights or holidays so you have to leverage the huge amount of intent data provided by the consumer.”

Eichmann said the emerging value of new platforms like Facebook – and Instagram and Pinterest, which may prove more valuable to travel – was good news for the sector.

Criteo’s founding ethos was “expand your search”, said Eichmann, something many travel firms are looking to do as Paid Per Click search engine costs rise.

“Everyone was looking to get the same ROI they saw in search in other channels because they were limited to certain key words in search,” he said.

As a result of this broadening media choice Criteo has seen a shift in the mix of its media buying over the years and been able to buy more inventory as effectiveness improved.

Eichmann said that as a result many clients consider Criteo to be another sales channel with 75% of clients now operating on the basis of uncapped spending.

And he said as a performance channel, the firm’s improving financial performance was a reflection of the performance of its advertisers.

“They think about us as a cost of sale, not as a marketing discretionary item,” he said. “The more they spend the more sales we can drive with the same ROI.

“We have 90% client retention and our scale allows us to pay more for that impression which allows us to pay more for inventory from publisher which allows us to drive more scale.”

Eichmann said Criteo is seeing increased demand from travel suppliers like airlines and hotels, having seen OTAs adopt its technology early.

Travel is Criteo’s second largest vertical representing about 20% of the firm’s business. It’s biggest – general retail – accounts for around two thirds.

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