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Best AdSense Alternative- Criteo Review


Over the years, AdSense has become one of the most reliable ad-network that has a fill rate of 95-100%. Most publishers rely on AdSense for their ad serving, however, it’s always good to sneak-peak into few opportunities that can lead to an overall revenue uplift. I have been trying quite a lot of CPM based ad networks over the last few years, and was particularly impressed by Criteo’s ad serving technique.


Criteo is a CPM based ad network that use AdSense as a fall-back to increase overall revenue for a publisher.

Criteo’s ad serving Engine is made of state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms that continuously incorporate and learn from new data, the accuracy of its prediction and recommendation in serving an ad improves with every ad they deliver.


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The Criteo Engine includes:

Criteo-Retargeting

  • Prediction algorithms which select only users likely to click and buy at that moment, complete with a real-time valuation that determines the right bid level
  • Recommendation algorithms determine the most relevant products to display for optimal click-through and conversion – this is true one-to-one advertising at scale
  • Bidding algorithms which determine value for each user in real-time in order to determine the right bid price
  • Display ads dynamically created in real-time for every individual consumer

While this might look more specific to an advertiser, you should understand why and how Criteo can serve high-performing ads.


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A Detailed Look at the Criteo Interface

Criteo Dashboard

Criteo can fill 10%-20% of your page views if you have substantial tier-1 traffic. Their ad CPM are typically 3 to 4 times more than AdSense.  Criteo ads are served only when the Criteo Engine feels that the user is most likely to complete an action (like a purchase or lead). This means, Criteo takes only those impressions which are relevant to Criteo’s advertisers leaving the remaining impressions to be filled by AdSense.

How to Create Ad Tags on Criteo Platform

It is extremely easy to create ad tags on Criteo platform and go live. Criteo also offers a robust interface to track impressions, RPM and overall fill rates. Before you can create ad tags, you need to be sure that your site is approved to show Criteo ads. All approved sites will have a green circle on its right. Once you site is approved, you can create as many ad units for the site you wish.

Step1: Go to MyAds tab and from the list of websites, click on the “add new placement” button under the website where you’d like to create an ad.

Criteo new placement


Step2: Here you need to fill the basic details about the ad placement, like the name of the placement, the advertising format and select the ad size of your choice. Also you need to set a minimum CPM for the ad unit. I’d recommend you set a CPM value which is more than your AdSense CPM and also, keep on experimenting with the CPM value for an optimized CPM/fill rate. Remember to ad your AdSense fall-back code on the space to your right.

Criteo Ad unit creation

Once you’ve added the AdSense passback, click on the save button to generate the ad tags and add it on your blog/website.

CPM and Fill Rates for Your Criteo Ads

I had a chat with the Criteo guys and they explained me their ad-serving model. The Criteo engine displays ads specific to user interest and not based on  the quality of the traffic. The engine understands the click-to-action potential for a display creative for a particular visit based on the past action behavior and then displays the right creative. This allows them to filter the appropriate traffic but will result in a low fill-rate. I have seen a fill-rate for 5-10% for my literature blog which has mostly Indian traffic. However, Criteo offers a CPM of $2 to $5 for the same.

Pointers: Keep in Mind

Always use AdSense as a fall-back while creating Criteo ads

Do not use more than 2 (3 ads at max) Criteo ad tags since the same ad creative will be loading on all the ad slots and this will dilute the CTR and overall CPM.

Test different ad size for the maximum CTR but don’t test all at the same time. From my experience, a 300×600 performs very well compared to other ad sizes.

The ad tags generated through the self-serve Criteo platform are synchronous. You might encounter ad display issues if you run synchronous codes for adsense or any other ad network along with Criteo. You can mail the Criteo guys at [email protected] and request for the asynchronous ad tags. They generally respond within 12 hours!

Feel free to share your experience as a Criteo publisher. Also, I haven’t tested their link units and would expect a feedback around it by any of your guys.


Update: With a fill rate of approx 10% for one ad unit, Criteo is giving me $2+ per day (CPM is $2 and above).. So, this is definitely a nice addition to the overall revenue. Nothing significant though, but obviously worth the one time setup effort.

Recommended List for You:

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3.5 Total Score

User Rating: 3.6 (1 votes)

Works as an ad optimization specialist helping publishers increase their ad revenue in display, video, native, and high impact ad formats. You can contact him on skype (skype id: ronniedey) to increase your ad revenue immediately or hire him for a consultation. If you're an ad network owner, do get in touch for sponsored reviews.

15 Comments
  1. Thanj youfor this nice review of Criteo.
    I will give it a try and I will leave a feedback.

    Thanks!

    • Francesko,

      Definitely Criteo is worth a try! It is one of those ad networks which can consistently pay higher than AdSense. Fill rates will vary a lot based on your content niche and traffic!

  2. are you sure, its not to danger for adsense account if placed in same page?

  3. Hello, very useful, if i have not adsense which code insert? Thank you

  4. Can i use criterio ad with adsense?

  5. nice informative article about Criteo. Thanks a lot.

  6. Abhishek i never hear about Criteo, Thank dude for info.

  7. U have not told about how much it pays per click

  8. Thanks for this review.I was searching adsense alternative badly.Now I got it

  9. very nice i also love this network

  10. i prefer mgid ads than adsense.

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