Topsort versus Criteo: Legacy solutions had their time. We’re the new world, they’re set to retire.

molly @ topsort

August 8, 2023
4 minutes
Industry Insights
Criteo was built in a time when ecommerce was just gaining traction, where brick-and-mortar stores first launched online. Now, these legacy partners are outgrowing what Criteo can offer. They’re probably the world leaders in retargeting… although that’s not super relevant anymore. Retailers want to keep up with the new world. We took the learnings from these legacy providers, shook them up, added a little… spice and created the real solution that modern, forward-thinking retailers are looking for.

What’s the big picture?

Privacy, ownership, cannibalization, optimization, and flexibility are key focuses for modern retailers

Privacy & Ownership

Criteo built their business on cookies and retargeting, and for that, they keep a lot of data, with a quick Google, you’ll see how much trouble they’re in at the moment, with millions of £ of fines. Any partner that collects your data in theory owns a bit of your company.

You can use Criteo to monetize your ad space by letting advertisers place sponsored listings but keep in mind that you won’t be owning the ad platform. Criteo manages your ad spaces for you and sells them to advertisers. In addition to not having control over your own platform, you will be transferring the ownership of vendor/advertiser data and relationships to another company.

With Topsort, this is not the case. We just act as enablers, the data flows through us, but we don’t keep it.

Cannibalization & Relevance

We believe scalable ad businesses don’t cannibalize the core marketplace dynamics and the customer satisfaction flywheel. It empowers everyone in the ecosystem instead of creating friction that eats into the core margin or seller satisfaction.

Criteo use parallel relevance. If you run sponsored listings through them, the products shown will be what Criteo “think” should be shown, not what actually would appear organically. At Topsort, we use the same marketplace relevance showing only listings that would organically appear, just in a different order.

As a result of lack of relevance, for Criteo, the ad click-through-rate is considerably low, to the point that the proceeds from ads could be lower than just showing organic products, thus cannibalizing the core business.

Optimization & Flexibility

Unlike Criteo, we look at the results before we look at any other numbers. We set a target ROAS, and let the technology optimize the process. The legacy solutions use the same processes that worked before, see what the results are, and then backward engineer to increase the return.

Retailers need modular solutions and heightened flexibility to match their individual needs, Criteo’s “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t fit anymore. Criteo can’t keep up, they’re running formats and processes that worked 10 years ago, this is not going to stack up today when retail is so competitive. Not only are we more flexible in WHAT the retailers need, but HOW we integrate it. Criteo take 3-6 months, we work at the speed of the retailer, averaging less than 1 month.

Side by Side Differences

There's a lot of elements to look at when deciding who to partner with. This table highlights a few key points we hear:

In conclusion, Criteo, a pioneer of its time, is grappling with the limitations of its legacy approach. In contrast, Topsort has seized the opportunity to revolutionize the industry by aligning with modern retailers' needs. With a focus on privacy, relevance, optimization, and flexibility, Topsort is rewriting the rules of advertising, positioning itself as the partner of choice for retailers embracing the future.

If you're looking for a modern retail media partner, keeping ahead of all the trends... we'd love to talk, chat with us today!

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