5 min read

Top Criteo Competitors & Alternatives

Sarah Wheeler
Sarah Wheeler
Updated on
January 6, 2022
Ad Server Comparisons

Criteo is one of the top retail media platforms, offering a solution for retailers to serve native advertising units and sponsored listings using third-party demand. But Criteo’s tag-based solution may not be for everyone, as ad tags result in ad blocking, slow page loads, and potential security risks.

Many retailers, moreover, may prefer direct advertiser relationships, rather than working with an opaque retail ad network.

This article presents Criteo’s main competitors and offers alternate retail media solutions.

Top Criteo competitors and alternatives

1. Kevel

Kevel offers a suite of ad APIs that publishers use to build their own retail media ad platforms, complete with native ads, sponsored listings, DOOH ads, and more.

Kevel excels over Criteo because of its flexibility and customization. While Criteo enables retail media monetization, it limits how much control publishers have over these features. Kevel’s infrastructure APIs, however, provide many more controls around advertiser relationships, ad unit customization, and pricing models.

Kevel’s customers include Bed Bath and Beyond, Lyst, Slickdeals, Ticketmaster, Yelp, and more.

kevel sponsored products

When to consider them
  • You want total control of your retail media platform. Kevel is an infrastructure tool and does not push opaque advertiser demand. You decide who appears and where, promoting on-brand and high-value ads.
  • You think Criteo lacks functionality. Kevel offers a plethora of features not available with Criteo, including first-party data targeting, radius targeting, custom self-serve advertiser portals, 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’re not a retailer. Criteo’s solution is tailored to multi-brand eCommerce retailers. It’s not the ideal fit for marketplaces, non-traditional publishers, Fintech apps, etc.
  • You want to serve in-store digital-out-of-home ads. Kevel is the only company on this list that lets you serve ads wherever you want: in-app, on-site, in-store, and more.
  • You want server-side integration. This allows for faster response times and gets around ad blocking.

When to think twice
  • You have no advertiser relationships. Kevel works best with preexisting direct relationships.
  • You want to launch in days. Kevel’s APIs require engineering resources and requires a few weeks to launch.

2. CitrusAd

Like Criteo, CitrusAd’s platform is retail-specific. CitrusAd has a broad network of advertisers for a plug-and-play solution, offering simple integration for sponsored products, banner ads, and email ads.

CitrusAd might not work for you if you’re looking for more customization. Without direct advertiser relationships, you risk off-brand ads and lost revenue.

citrus sponsored products

When to consider them:
  • You want server-side integration. This allows for faster response times and gets around ad blocking.

When to think twice
  • You want an independent partner. CitrusAd is owned by Publicis, one of the largest ad agencies. Other ad agencies may have qualms working with you if your ad platform enables a comeptitor.
  • You need immediate integration. They require 4-6 weeks to integrate, while Criteo can be up in a day.
  • You don’t like revenue sharing. CitrusAd operates under an opaque rev share model (like Criteo does).

3. PromoteIQ

PromoteIQ, bought by Microsoft in 2019, is another retail media focused platform that provides targeted sponsored listings. Integration is simple with tag-based ads, and like Criteo, they generate demand for your platform.

PromoteIQ stands out in their flexibility with ad relationships. Unlike Criteo, PromoteIQ allows you to manage direct deals and approve vendors before they appear on your site/app.

However, PromoteIQ’s tag-based system still limits ad unit customization and targeting control.

promoteiq sponsored products

4. Google Ad Manager

With over 90% market share, GAM’s publisher-side ad server towers over competitors.

google ad manager ad server

GAM's' inherent problems, however, prove problematic for retailers.

Indeed, GAM is not a retail media solution and only relevant if serving standard banner ads, not sponsored listings.

5. Other third-party ad servers

Standard ad servers supply tag-based banner ads and do not work well for retail media. The list includes Adbutler, Adform, AdGlare, AdSpeed, EPOM, Revive, Smart Ad Server, UpRival, and Zedo.

6. Building it entirely yourself

The other option is to build the retail media platform yourself. Such a project could take 10-20+ engineers and a few years. On the other hand, retail companies like Walmart and Amazon have driven billions from their homegrown solutions.

While this approach may provide full flexibility, it pulls resources from other projects and delays your new solution for at least a year.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of building an ad server from scratch.

What are the next steps?

If you’re looking for an alternative to Criteo, we’d love to chat about the pros and cons of Kevel over Criteo. You can reach out to us here.

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