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Going to build our technology, engineering hub out of India: Criteo's Brian Gleason

The chief revenue officer of Criteo, Brian Gleason, talks exclusively to Storyboard18 about the potential of the open web and the Indian market The chief revenue officer of Criteo, Brian Gleason, talks exclusively to Storyboard18 about the potential of the open web and the Indian market

Published: Sep 27, 2022 06:01:05 PM IST
Updated: Sep 27, 2022 06:15:52 PM IST

Going to build our technology, engineering hub out of India: Criteo's Brian GleasonBrian Gleason, chief revenue officer, Criteo, talks about growing the business, the potential of the open web, and trends unique to the Indian market.

Criteo, the commerce media company, recently announced the launch of a video advertising solution in India. The company is bullish on the Indian market, looking to sign more clients, and grow its team and offices. Its video advertising solutions help brands, publishers, and retailers reach and monetize audiences.
 
As more Indians spend time on digital, consuming videos, opportunities with video ads are booming. India's total video market—traditional TV and digital—is currently at $11.6 billion and will grow at a 9.5 percent CAGR in the next five years to touch $18 billion in revenue by 2026, as per independent research and consulting firm Media Partners Asia (MPA).
 
Criteo is looking to tap this growing market by connecting brands to consumers through retargeting, internet advertising, recommendation, personalization, search, behavioural targeting and ecommerce ad solutions. In an interaction with Storyboard18, Brian Gleason, chief revenue officer, Criteo, talks about growing the business, the potential of the open web, and trends unique to the Indian market.
 
Edited excerpts.
 
Q. How big is India as a market for Criteo? What percentage of your global revenue comes from India?
India is incredibly important to us. We began operations in 2016 in India. We have over 160 employees with rapid expansion plans. We're going to build our technology and engineering hub out of India. In terms of overall markets, Criteo makes roughly a billion dollars in overall revenue, and India is certainly in the top seven of our markets—scaling extremely quickly. It's one of our highest growth markets, and I think it's been registering double-digit growth all the way back since 2019.

Q. Tell us what trends are unique to India.
The two biggest trends in India are that the ecommerce space is growing quickly, but I believe it's still less than 10 percent versus retail sales. But what I do see is a hybrid type of relationship in India. I am not seeing as much of that in other countries.

We see that a lot of shoppers are going to physical retailers and then buying online or researching online and buying in retail. And I think we're going to see more and more of that as things develop. But the numbers are interesting. I believe it's one in every three shoppers that starts their search on a retail site. So we'll see more and more as the market develops. But I think the hybrid nature of the market that stands today is unique.

Also read: Indian ecommerce market to grow by 96% between 2021 and 2025: report
 
Q. What’s the potential of the open web and what it brings for businesses, including local brands?
If I look at our overall total addressable market for commerce media, I believe it's about $100 billion. We're really at this third wave of growth with digital. The first was a search that was followed quickly by social, and I think that's coming upon commerce media.

Commerce media is really beyond the walls. You know you have a few walled gardens and the biggest one is Amazon. So, beyond that, I think we see this ecosystem beginning to form, and there's a relationship between the largest retailers and the large e-marketplaces. But then that also goes down to local players, the mom-and-pop type of establishments that are beginning to build relationships with some of these players (e-marketplaces).
 
As that develops again, I think it's a massive opportunity, and what it does is opens up an opportunity for brands. The largest brands in the world, whether it is P&G, L’Oréal or Unilever can engage with audiences and get real-time measurement or close the measurement against the open web, but back to a retail environment. It's driving so much of the growth that we see today, and I think we'll see it continue to scale.

Q. How critical is first-party data strategy for companies?
For a retailer, certainly, first-party data is gold. We certainly build our first-party data. If I look at India as a market, I believe we have a reach of almost 250 million daily active users in India itself, and out of that, it's a very high percentage that is female, which is a little bit higher than we see in most markets.

For first-party data, everybody needs to lean into that because it's really about measurement and effectiveness. Now it doesn't just have to be first-party data. I think some other signals and insights will start to take shape.

Also read: Are cookies a friend or a foe for internet users?

The Google cookie deprecation delay certainly gives everybody more time, but I believe as an industry, we need to continue to lean in and find a solution and work together. I don't think it'll be one party who breaks the code on this.
 
Q. How can smaller, scalable brands in the region grow and carve out new revenue streams through retail media networks and technology?
Digital by itself created the opportunity for a small retailer or someone with an idea to compete with someone with a massive scale. Ecommerce is a little bit unique because you need partners to help with the logistics.

I'll go back to the Flipkart relationship with us, which is interesting because they have a massive marketplace which connects using Flipkart’s scale with Criteo in our instance to be able to do performance and dynamic creative. But it invites in that marketplace multiple smaller sellers to be able to use the logistics of Flipkart and get into the game and be able to compete. That's massive, and I think we'll see more and more of that, and you'll see it both with niche solutions.

Also read: Build privacy-safe solutions: Iván Markman of Yahoo on cookie-less world

Whether that be an artisan or someone who is creating or crafting or it could be smaller delivery apps right where you're seeing more people compete, whether it's a restaurant or a service-based business. I think all these things are starting to come into play, which is fascinating to watch.
 
India, as a whole, has such a massive scale, and I think the one thing that we have to think about when we look at India for anyone, is to think big. It's not a market where you just put your toe in the water. And that's why we're making the investment, obviously, and building our technology here.
 
Q. Are you planning to launch more products and what are your team or office expansion plans in India?
We recently announced a new video solution in India a week or two ago. We will continue to roll out new solutions to the market. You'll see us too much more around retail media capabilities and markets. We started with Flipkart, and I think we continue to build in that space in terms of talent. We look to build our technology hub out of India. We've already made some significant hires, and the plan is to hire additional 150 people for that operation.
 
When I think about India's growth in all facets, whether it be the product, talent or big capabilities, that's a market we want to build in.

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