Criteo will always tell you that, in order to perform their best, they need to be positioned at the top of your ad stack so they can get a first look at the impressions coming in.
They claim that having the first look will outperform the CPM’s from other networks and, and despite the fill rate not being high at first they can optimize to grow that at the CPM level.
Let’s be honest, every ad network would love to run at the top of your stack and get the highest quality inventory. If you haven’t dealt with Criteo yet, rest assured they will always push for this pretty hard and be adamant about it.
Related Read: Casale Media Ad Network Review
So the question remains, is there any truth to this? You want to give your highest quality impressions to your best performing ad network and Criteo is new to you. Does it make sense to set them up this way? We’ve implemented them with a lot of our publishers and this is what we’ve concluded:
1) Criteo *can* be good to run at the top of your ad stack but at a low-frequency cap. Run it at a low CPM Standard line item type but watch it very closely.
2) Other than your direct sales, this set up will allow Criteo to have first dibs on the impressions that come in before any other ad network – even if you have AdSense or Ad Exchange set up as dynamic allocation.
Related Read: Dynamic Allocation and How it Can Make You Rich
Therefore, this set up must be rigorously tested for your particular site. Set it at a high minimum CPM on their interface and start it at a 1 x 24hrs frequency cap on your ad server; that way you mitigate the risk of this setup.
3) When we set up Criteo we make sure we set up DFP passback ad units behind it and check passback ad impression discrepancies on a daily basis.
Starting with this setup, you can slowly begin opening up the frequency cap if their fill rates get better and optimally place them in your stack as you see what kind of consistent CPM you get from them over the next while.