Criteo, a company that helps online businesses retarget customers who’ve left their site without making a purchase, relocated its headquarters from Paris, France to Palo Alto, Calif. four months ago and has just launched a new offering, PPC Retargeting Solution.

Criteo lets its customers personalize display ads to re-engage with visitors to their sites. The new PPC Retargeting Solution features a performance-based CPC (cost per click) model. Criteo charges only when users actually click on a banner and go back to the client’s website, a model very similar to that used by Google for paid search. Each ad banner is created using Criteo’s proprietary algorithms. A banner will contain product-specific information based on a user’s past shopping behavior. Criteo not only creates banners but also buys media and tracks results for its clients. (Sample banner pictured.)

Having expanded across European markets, including the UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy, the company decided to enter the US market. It has hired 120 people in the US, including 20 salespeople and a leadership team including VP of Marketing Karen Dayan, previously of Microsoft, and VP of Strategic Partnerships Jeff Mills, who was previously at Yahoo and SideStep.

According to CEO and cofounder J. B. Rudelle, they’ve not only set up salespeople but also two data centers, one on each coast. “The US is in a way less mature in this space so the clients have been extremely responsive,” said Rudelle, but the challenges they face are different than in Europe because there hasn’t been an effective CPC solution and they have had to re-educate clients.

Criteo was founded in 2005 and spent the first four years after founding on R&D. It launched its first product in April 2008 and gained 400 clients in 18 months, mostly retail and travel companies. It works with 70-80% of the major retailers in Europe and has signed on three of the top 20 retailers in the US. Competitors include MediaFORGE, which is priced on a CPA basis, Fetchback, which has a more flexible pricing model, and ReTargeter, which charges a flat monthly fee.

Criteo has secured a total of $17 million in funding, with 3M euros in a first institutional round in March 2006 coming from French private equity firm AGF and Elaia Partners, and 9M euros in a second round in January 2008 led by Index Ventures. The company displays over 4 billion banners per month but would not disclose the geographical breakdown for those banners.

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