5 min read

Top CitrusAd Competitors & Alternatives

Chris Shuptrine
Chris Shuptrine
Updated on
March 15, 2022
Ad Server Comparisons

CitrusAd is one of the few solutions that helps retail brands integrate sponsored listings into their sites and apps. For many eCommerce customers, CitrusAd will be a fine choice — but there are pros and cons of using their solution over competitors in the space.

This article looks into CitrusAd's main competitors and when it makes sense to use an alternative instead.

Top CitrusAd competitors and alternatives

1. Kevel

Like CitrusAd, Kevel is an API-driven tool for easily integrating sponsored products and other ad units into one’s site and app.

Where Kevel excels over CitrusAd is around flexibility and features. As an ads API tool founded seven years before CitrusAd, Kevel has a wealth of features not yet available in CitrusAd, including radius targeting and first-party data activation.

Kevel’s customer list includes Rappi, Bed Bath and Beyond, Lyst, Slickdeals, Ticketmaster, Yelp, and many more.

kevel sponsored products

When to consider them
  • You currently use CitrusAd and are looking for a viable alternative. Since both solutions are API-first, the migration won't come with a major learning curve.
  • You want full control over your retail media platform. Kevel is an infrastructure tool and does not push any opaque demand onto you. You decide who appears and where.
  • You think CitrusAd lacks functionality. Kevel offers a plethora of features not available with CitrusAd, including first-party data targeting, radius targeting, Management APIs for building a self-serve advertiser portal, and more.
  • You don’t like revenue sharing. Kevel employs SaaS pricing, based around # of ad requests, and doesn’t take a percent of media.
  • You want an independent tech partner. Kevel is not owned by anyone and offers an agnostic infrastructure platform.
When to think twice
  • If you have no advertiser relationships. Kevel works best when you have direct relationships already.
  • You want to launch a new platform in a few days. Being API-driven, integration will require engineering resources and likely take a few weeks.

2. Criteo

A retargeting company that branched into retail media, Criteo has built the largest sponsored products ad network, making it easy for e-retailers to dip their toes into sponsored listings.

Criteo’s solution is mainly tag-based, which comes with difficulties around ad blocking, page speed, and the potential for inadvertent data sharing.

If you are looking for any easy solution to integrate — at the expense of the transparency and flexibility CitrusAd provides — Criteo will be the best alternative.

criteo sponsored products

When to consider them:
  • You want to maintain some revenue from sponsored products.
  • You want Criteo to bring the demand.
When to think twice
  • You want a flexible, full-featured sponsored listings platform. Criteo is more of a plug-and-play solution and lacks CitrusAd's customization options, limiting the targeting and auction rules you may want.
  • You want transparency and control. Think of Criteo as a sponsored products ad network. It’s relatively easy to integrate and drives revenue quickly, but you don’t have control over who appears and can’t sell any direct deals.
  • You don’t like revenue sharing. Criteo operates under an opaque rev share model.

3. PromoteIQ

PromoteIQ, bought by Microsoft in 2019, has pros and cons that mirror Criteo's. They are a tag-based sponsored listings ad network that makes it easy to integrate sponsored products into your retail site.

promoteiq sponsored products

They differ from Criteo in that they provide more visibility into your advertisers, allowing you to manage direct deals and approve vendors before they appears on your site/app.

They also provide more flexibility around ad units outside of sponsored products, such as carousel banner ads.

4. Google Ad Manager

No list of ad servers is complete without mentioning Google Ad Manager. With over 90% market share, GAM’s publisher-side ad server towers over competitors.

google ad manager ad server

Unfortunately, GAM will not be a great CitrusAd alternative — unless you wanted to try hacking something together, and even then it’s unlikely your ad units will fit into the browsing/search experience like they do now.

GAM also has some inherent problems that could push most retailers to think twice about using them.

GAM could be an option if you’re looking to replace native ad units and sponsored products with standard banner ads, but that would likely be a stopgap approach as you find a long-term solution to power your retail media platform.

5. Other third-party ad servers

In your research, you may come across the below ad serving tools. However, it is unlikely they'll provide all the features you're looking for in your retail media platform.

  1. Standard ad servers - These companies are focused on tag-based banner ads and do not work well for native, fully-customized sponsored listing platforms. Includes Adbutler, Adform, AdGlare, AdSpeed, EPOM, Revive, Smart Ad Server, UpRival, and Zedo.
  2. Acquired ad servers - These companies have been acquired and includes Hooklogic (bought by Criteo), Mabaya (Criteo), and Polymorph (Walmart).

6. Building it entirely yourself

The other option is to build a retail media platform yourself. Such a project could take 10-20+ engineers and upwards of a few years — but it’s a path that some retail companies like Walmart and Amazon took.

This approach may provide full flexibility, but it also means you are pulling resources from other projects and delaying your new solution for at least a year.

Here’s a deeper dive into the pros and cons of building an ad server from scratch.

What are the next steps?

If you are a retailer looking for a CitrusAd competitor, we’d love to chat about the pros and cons of Kevel over CitrusAd. You can reach out to us here.

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