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Improving the efficacy of programmatic ads with local infrastructure

03/31/2016| 6:25:45 PM| ChinaTravelNews 中文

Criteo has recently set up a data center in China to overcome “data gaps” and build efficient connection for improved programmatic trading and real-time bidding.

ChinaTravelNews, Ritesh Gupta - Criteo has recently set up a data center in China to overcome “data gaps” and build efficient connection for improved programmatic trading and real-time bidding.

The practice of automated buying and selling of digital media has gained prominence over the years.

In real-time bidding (RTB), impressions are bought and sold in a live auction. This could be via a public or private exchange.

A vital cog is interconnectivity among various stakeholders involved. There are a variety of platforms and these are required for controlling auctions, optimising price for available inventory, for going after bids, blending 1st and 3rd-party data to set up customer profiles used for targeting etc.

Significance of local infrastructure

So why local infrastructure needs to be set up by a non-Chinese company for programmatic trading and real-time bidding here?

Criteo’s CEO Eric Eichmann recently mentioned that the company’s technology doesn’t need to change for China. “However, the plumbing that we need to setup in China is very different, the programmatic networks are different,” he said, during the company’s Q4 earnings call. “We don’t get the benefit of having connected with global players like Google or Facebook in China, because they are not very big or very present.”

As we tried to understand this further, it emerged that “technically speaking”, it is imperative to set up a data center in China.

“For the powerful firewall in China, time out and missing of data may occur when displaying ads in China,” Kelvin Cheng, Managing Director of Criteo China said. This can have a negative impact on any campaign, considering the real-time, dynamic nature of this medium. “This also influences the operation run by a prediction and recommendation engine (for instance, which available ad opportunity to avail) and may lose the advantages on RTB platform.”

For instance, Criteo’s engine is based on machine learning and predictive technology. Its core strength lies in helping advertisers reach users by displaying personalized ads in real-time.

Efficient connection  

To its credit, performance marketing technology company Criteo has recently opened its data center in Shanghai.  

According to Cheng, Criteo’s facility in Shanghai is connected to China Unicom and China Telecom, two of China's major ISPs, with high bandwidth capacity. It is also connected, using dedicated International Private Circuits, to other Criteo data centers in Hong Kong and Amsterdam.

“(With this center), Criteo’s local clients can now benefit from low latencies and enhanced network performance to Criteo’s platform, enabling us to better handle business growth in China,” shared Cheng.

It is important to understand what is needed to serve dynamic, personalized ads.

Cheng referred to the significance of high-bandwidth capacity to ensure a stable connection and efficiency.

Also, a local data center can help in setting up a prediction and recommendation engine with a more flexible, resilient and efficient connection.

Cheng also mentioned that based on the Internet media environment, the purchase always happens by the way of RTB, and each bid request can be processed in under 100 milliseconds. The possibility of server timeout will be reduced as well due to the setting-up of local data center.

Gearing up for mobile commerce

Cheng says the growth of mobile commerce China is impressive - the technology and applications are very advanced, “probably the most advanced”.  

There is a need to manage programmatic purchase with strong resources.

For its part, Criteo believes it credibility is strong as it has accomplished systematic integration with over 20 main advertising exchange platforms globally, such as Google. And the company has stable ties with established Internet companies in China which includes Baidu, Tanx, Youku etc. “Also, Criteo engine is able to evaluate the consumer behavior and react bid request to the RTB platform in under 100 milliseconds,” says Cheng. From infrastructure’s perspective, the quantity of servers counts, and over the past four years, Criteo has increased its global server pool to over 15,000 to meet the needs of its rapidly expanding global business.

Also, it is imperative for any player to highlight benefits of mobile programmatic say in terms of  inventory quality/ transparency, and also ensure custom-targeted campaigns are being handled with  speed and precision.

From mobile integration perspective, talking of  Android, the applications market is quite active on Google Play in other countries. “In China, Google is replaced by many other platforms like Baidu, Tanx, the diversity of which requires us to solve the R&D tech researching on traffic,” shared a source.


Specialists need to find a way out to establish a joined-up cross-screen advertising strategy. Rather than just focusing on clicks and impressions, advertisers need to better understand of digital users across multiple screens.

Another critical area that needs to be evaluated is related to fraud.

As witnessed in other countries, programmatic mobile ad inventory can be deceitful. “The environment (of digital advertising) in China is complex and different. Facing issues like counterfeiting, it is hard to convince clients when displaying the performance advertising,” shared a source in China, referring to impression fraud, click fraud etc. 

Another peculiar hurdle is related to dealing with the number of ad exchange platforms.

“Compared with the limited number of concentrated exchange platforms abroad, the trading platform in China is more decentralized relatively. In other countries, dominant ad exchange platforms are not many, mainly Google and Facebook. While in China there are almost 20 platforms with different data presented on their websites. So here the process is more laborious,” explained a source.

TAGS: Criteo | programmatic trading | RTB | mobile commerce
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