Ad retargeter Criteo has hired Greg Coleman, the former president and chief revenue officer of The Huffington Post and EVP global sales for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), to help steer the company’s international expansion. Despite being credited as helping to more then double HuffPo’s revenues — a promise he made early on — Coleman was out when AOL (NYSE: AOL) bought HuffPo in February for $315 million.
Critio began its existence in France as an online video recommendation service. But over the the year’s, it has morphed into the business of online ad retargeting, a sometimes controversial aspect among the larger controversial concept of targeting in general. In retargeting, consumers who go to a marketers’ website, check out the merchandise but leave without making a purchase, get sent ads from the marketer on other sites they visit in hopes of convincing them to come back and buy something.
Last year, online shoes retailer Zappos got some heat from customers who complained about receiving the exact same add repeatedly. Zappos subsequently adjusted its system and worked to make sure it wouldn’t bug their customers with repeats of the same ad. That’s become the cautionary tale as retargeting has grown into a potentially lucrative part of online advertising.
Clearly, Criteo hopes that Coleman’s success at HuffPo and Yahoo rubs off on it and helps it avoid pitfalls like the Zappos example. Most importantly, Coleman’s relationships with major marketers will also help separate it from what’s becoming a very competitive space.
Just before the sale of HuffPo to AOL, where he briefly served as head of ad sales before Tim Armstrong was named CEO in April ’09, Coleman unveiled a plan to double the blog’s revenues again in 2011. Part of that plan included still more ad sales hiring and getting advertisers to commit to year-long ads tied to social media. Release (pdf)