Publicis swoops for retail digital ad platform CitrusAd

tesco new2Publicis Groupe is beefing up its data-driven marketing capabilities with the acquisition of the CitrusAd digital advertising platform, used by over 4,000 brands and 70 major retailers in 25 countries to plan, buy and optimise highly personalised campaigns.

The company, which was set up in 2017 in Australia, allows retailers to monetise their digital shelf space, while helping suppliers increase sales through targeted sponsored product and banner ad campaigns at the point of purchase.

Using the self-serve platform, suppliers manage campaigns directly to get products and banner ads in the best highest selling positions, but with the flexibility to change and personalise them as required.

More than half of its activities are in the US, where CitrusAd claims to be the fastest growing ecommerce ad network. Its US clients include Macy’s, The Fresh Grocer, Woolworths, Petco and ProFarma, while in the UK it works with Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, and Ocado.

With the Covid pandemic accelerating the growth in online shopping, ecommerce sales for consumer packaged goods are forecast to have doubled between 2019 and 2023.

This in turn is driving exponential growth in retail media, which is also expected to double in value over the next five years from $30bn to $60bn a year.

Once the deal is approved, CitrusAd will act as a standalone business unit within Epsilon, the data-driven marketing business that Publicis acquired for $4.4bn (£3.4bn) in 2019 and which sits at the heart of the group’s “Power of One” proposition.

Publicis claims that CitrusAd’s onsite expertise, complemented by Epsilon’s offsite retail media offering, positions the group to lead the new generation of identity-led retail media, with transparent measurement validated by transactions.

It insists that clients will be able to accelerate their online growth by increasing conversion rate and maximising return on ad spends, highlighting that CitrusAd’s conversion rates are among the highest across the entire media industry with 60% conversion after a click.

Brands will also be able to access superior customer understanding based on first-party data from retailers, equipping them for a cookieless world, Publicis argues.

Meanwhile, it is claimed that brands will be able to reach their customers both onsite (in retailer ecosystems) and offsite (in publisher ecosystems) and measure in real-time the consolidated performance of their media investments, whatever the channel of conversions. All of this at SKU level and validated directly by transactions.

CitrusAd co-founder and chief executive Brad Moran said: “It’s not every day you find a partner the size of Publicis Groupe that not only shares the same vision and entrepreneurial spirit as CitrusAd but who can apply their advertising prowess and muscle to a technology company like ours.

“Retailers and brands are entering uncharted territory as retail media grows and having Publicis supporting CitrusAd in its efforts, I know that our customers will reap the benefit of a century’s worth of media expertise combined with high quality technology and a team of retail media experts.”

Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun added: “We are delighted to welcome the CitrusAd team to Publicis. The leading technology they have developed, coupled with Epsilon’s CORE ID will enable brands to grow faster and retailers to generate new sources of revenue to win in a platform world. It will also give to Publicis a strong competitive advantage in a channel that by 2025 should surpass traditional TV spend.”

The deal is expected to close in the next weeks.

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