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Criteo (CRTO) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript


CRTO earnings call for the period ending March 31, 2024.

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Criteo (CRTO 5.69%)
Q1 2024 Earnings Call
May 02, 2024, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to Criteo’s first-quarter 2024 earnings call. [Operator instructions] Please note, this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Melanie Dambre, vice president of investor relations. Go ahead.

Melanie DambreVice President, Investor Relations

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Criteo’s first-quarter 2024 earnings call. Joining us on the call today is chief executive officer, Megan Clarken; and chief financial officer, Sarah Glickman, are going to share some prepared remarks. Todd Parsons, our chief product officer, will join us for the Q&A session. As usual, you will find our investor presentation on our IR website now as well as our prepared remarks and transcript after the call.

Before we get started, I would like to remind you that our remarks will include forward-looking statements which reflect critical judgments, assumptions, and analysis only as of today, our actual results may differ materially from current expectations based on a number of factors affecting Criteo’s business. Except as required by law, we do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements discussed today. For more information, please refer to the Risk Factors discussed in our earnings release as well as our most recent forms 10-K and 10-Q filed with the SEC. We will also discuss non-GAAP measures of our performance.

Definitions and reconciliations to the most directly comparable GAAP metrics are included in our earnings release published today. Finally, unless otherwise stated, all gross comparisons made during this call are against the same period in the prior year. With that, let me now hand it over to Megan.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Thanks, Melanie, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We’re off to a great start in 2024. We continue to transform our Company into a commerce media powerhouse, and we’re gaining more and more momentum.

We delivered double-digit organic growth for the second consecutive quarter and achieved record topline results in Q1 while nearly doubling our adjusted EBITDA from the same period last year. I’m very proud of the incredible work from our teams. These results are a testament to our laser focus and steadfast execution. As we continue to make progress on our plan, we’re even more excited about our future and confident that we have the right strategy to capitalize on the next wave of digital advertising and deliver value for our shareholders.

We’ve built the only unified platform that directly connects advertisers with retailers and publishers, and we believe we’ve repositioned our business to be the leading ad tech player in retail media and the platform of choice for performance-based advertising. Starting with Retail Media, we continued to gain market share with 38% year-over-year growth and activated media spend, outpacing the market. We have a leading and growing market footprint, with close to 225 retailers and 2,700 brands globally. This is now miles ahead of any competitor, with our scaled network of retailers becoming the obvious complement to Amazon when buying Retail Media.

Our global presence, ability to scale quickly, our end-to-end capabilities, simple-to-use products, AI-driven performance, and world-leading sales and product expertise remain key differentiators. We continue to expand our coverage. We’re delighted to have extended our partnership with Walmart Connect in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador, further broadening our Retail Media presence in LatAm. In the U.S., we’re proud to add new retail partners, including a leading retail department store chain and a TV and online shopping platform.

We also continue to win new retailers in APAC, including David Jones in Australia and a drugstore chain, Welcia, in Japan. We’re quickly ramping up our newly signed partnerships, including Albertsons, and expanding our reach into adjacent commerce verticals, as exemplified by the recent addition of Ticketmaster to our platform, the world’s leading ticket marketplace. We also look forward to expanding our partnership with Uber Eats, as we work with them to go into new categories and add new ad formats. With our relentless focus on driving demand, or said differently, attracting advertising spend to our retailer sites, our access to unique and premium Retail Media inventory at scale has been instrumental in achieving this.

We added over 100 new brands in Q1 and saw continued strong growth through our agency partners by making Retail Media easily accessible to them via Commerce Max. In the U.S. alone, agency spend reached about $100 million for the first time this quarter, with 40% coming from three agency holdcos growing by triple digit in Q1. We expect sustained momentum as our multi-year partnerships with leading agencies and brands represent hundreds of millions of dollars in spend anticipated to come through our platform in 2024 and beyond.

Evidence of this can be seen with our largest brands who are now advertising on 50% more retailer sites than they were last year. Commerce Max drives demand to both retailers’ own inventory and to offsite campaigns, using retailer data assets to extend their reach across open internet inventory. FreshDirect is one of the latest retailers to participate in offsite campaigns with our Commerce Max DSP. Further to enabling demand through direct channels via Commerce Max, we’re also focused on indirect demand channels.

While still early days, opening more channels creates further opportunities to scale. Our Commerce Grid SSP gives brands a further way to access our retailer audiences for offsite campaigns run through third-party DSP. This means more channels for retailers to attract additional demand and more revenue opportunities. Nobody else offers such flexibility and optionality to reach the most valuable audiences and connect supply so efficiently with demand.

In advertising, results are supported by measurement. Measurement is critical to buying and selling and helping brands and agencies understand the effectiveness of their Retail Media spend. In February, we gained our first MRC accreditation for Retail Media measurement. This is an important step forward as we help to unify the ecosystem.

MRC accreditation of our Retail Media measurement means that the data provided by Criteo is certified to the level of the currency data used in buying and selling traditional media and digital display, and therefore is comparable. Our measurement can be used to make decisions across platforms and media buyers. This accreditation underscores our reliable and advanced measurement capabilities for both onsite sponsored products and onsite display ads, and represents a significant step forward to drive larger brand investments in Retail Media. We’re also working with key third-party verification leaders like Integral Ad Science and Double Verify to enable viewability and invalid traffic measurement across our network of retailers.

Overall, we expect significantly more dollars to continue to shift to Retail Media because it helps brands take advantage of retailers’ increasingly valuable first-party data to connect with consumers. 83% of agencies rate the performance of Retail Media spend as more effective than other channels in terms of sales impact according to our recent ecosystem survey. Today, more than half the brands and agencies in all regions are investing in Retail Media, both onsite and offsite. Lastly, we remain at the forefront of Retail Media innovation by integrating generative AI into our global platform.

We’re testing sponsored ads into conversational environments, as consumers progressively use chatbots on retailer websites as part of their shopping experience. Now, turning to Performance Media, which encompasses our targeting capability, including commerce audiences and our supply and ad tech services from our Iponweb acquisition. Again this quarter, our growth was led by Commerce Audiences, up an impressive 54% year over year. Commerce Audiences are a set of precision targeting tactics that leverage the largest commerce dataset on the open internet and best-in-class AI to help advertisers acquire and retain customers.

Our strong momentum is driven by the accelerated adoption of first-party data driven solutions, successful cross-selling efforts, incremental third-party demand through our commerce grid SSP and AI-driven performance enhancement. Firstly, we’re seeing notable success with our first-party data driven commerce audiences, as we captured both new budgets and budget shifts from retargeting. With privileged access to first-party data, our various targeting tactics enable advertisers to reach relevant consumers everywhere. For example, we’re activating advertisers’ first-party audiences through integrations with about 40 customer data and data collaboration platforms to reengage existing customers and turn them into loyal shoppers.

Second, we’re actively capitalizing on cross-selling opportunities for our clients’ value, having one part — because our clients value having one partner to help them engage with consumers across their buying journey. Almost all of our top clients in each region buy Commerce Audiences. In fact, 75% of our Performance Media revenue, excluding supply and ad tech services, comes from clients using Commerce Audiences in addition to retargeting. Third, we’re attracting more demand via our Commerce Grid SSP.

Our SSP gives agencies and brands access to our Commerce Audiences packaged with publisher inventory to run highly targeted campaigns through third-party DSPs, including Google’s Display & Video 360. This means distribution at scale. Finally, AI-driven performance enhancements drove an increase in Contribution ex-TAC in the double-digit million range in Q1. Our cutting-edge AI is front and center in our ability to differentiate through superior performance.

Just two weeks ago, we received the 2024 SBR Technology Excellence Award in the AI Advertising category for our deep KNN technology. This acknowledges the groundbreaking innovation we’re bringing to market, transforming the way marketers engage consumers through personalized and impactful advertising. In addition, retargeting remains an important tactic valued by marketers. Retargeting grew slightly in Q1, including the activation of Meta’s large-scale inventory in combination with open internet inventory.

We saw a meaningful increase in the number of Facebook and Instagram campaigns in Q1 compared to last quarter, and we expect continued traction as we progress through the year. This is part of our next-generation addressability strategy and is one of our addressability pillars, bringing resilience to our retargeting business going forward. And as you know, Google announced that they won’t deprecate third-party cookies until early 2025. This is just a few months’ delay, and we continue to advance our comprehensive, multi-pronged addressability strategy to future-proof our clients’ advertising performance.

This delay means upside to our business in 2024. Regardless of any scenario, we believe our next-gen addressability strategy gives us an edge in the market. We already bring AI-driven performance to our clients in cookie-less environments today and we continue to expand our capabilities to drive the best outcomes for our clients without third-party identifiers. Our stable testing of the Privacy Sandbox APIs involving 1% of Chrome’s traffic without third-party cookies is still ongoing, and we’ll report that back to the U.K.

CMA when completed. Building on our differentiation, we continue to innovate and prove that our commerce-focused AI helps advertisers engage privacy-first commerce audiences throughout each step of the consumer journey as user signals disappear, by leveraging our deep learning models at the intersection of proprietary interest groups, commerce data, and media data across retailer sites, social media platforms and the open internet with pioneering the future of post-cookie advertising. We’re confident in continuing our positive momentum and our recently announced investor update in the fall will be an opportunity to provide a broader update on our Retail Media business and opportunities. Stay tuned for more details on that.

To conclude, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of our shareholders for their valued feedback over the past couple of months. We remain open and we’ll continue to consider all opportunities to create further value for shareholders. We’re confident in our business strategy and financial strength, and we are laser-focused on execution of our Commerce Media powerhouse vision. We believe we’re best positioned to lead the market, with Retail Media being the fastest-growing segment of advertising and Performance Media bringing the most valuable commerce audiences to global advertisers.

With that, I’ll hand the call over to Sarah who will provide more details on our financial results and our outlook. Sarah?

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Megan, and good morning, everyone. Our first quarter performance reflects outstanding execution and strong cost discipline. Revenue was $450 million and Contribution ex-TAC increased $254 million. This includes a year-over-year headwind from foreign currencies of $4 million.

At constant currency, Q1 Contribution ex-TAC grew by 17%, up sequentially, compared to our growth of 10% in Q4, with strong performance across the board. As part of our transformation, we continue to shift and rebalance our topline mix, and our new solutions represented slightly more than half of our business in Q1. Client retention remains high at close to 90%, and about 40% of our clients are using more than one of our solutions. Clients who engage with multiple products, more typically our largest clients, have a seven times higher customer lifetime value than those who only use one product.

As previously communicated, we updated our segment reporting structure beginning in Q1 2024, and we now have two segments, Retail Media and Performance Media. Both segments delivered strong growth in Q1. Our Retail Media segment encompasses revenue generated from brands, agencies, and retailers, the purchase and sale of Retail Media inventory, audiences, and services. Our Performance Media segment encompasses revenue generated from our targeting capabilities, and supply and ad tech services.

Starting with Retail Media, revenue was $51 million and Contribution ex-TAC grew 34% at constant currency to $50 million. Our growth was primarily driven by our client base in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K., and our retailer marketplaces. We benefited from the contribution of newly signed retailers and growth from existing clients remain strong, with same retailer Contribution ex-TAC retention at 136%. During the first quarter, we also benefited from new licensing and service fees with our largest retailer clients, while they started to transition to their direct sales model and an earlier Easter compared to last year.

It’s important to highlight that we benefit from a robust and expanding base of clients in Retail Media and that we continue to experience strong client retention. Many of our retailer partners, including our largest client, have been successfully growing with us for many years. At the same time, we have been expanding our client roster and we are seeing growth in every annual retailer cohort. Notably, in our recent cohort, Contribution ex-TAC for our retailers in their second year doubled year over year in Q1 and our cohort of retailers in their third year grew over 50% in the same period.

Remember, this growth comes from retailers already selling directly to their largest brand, which we call retailer sold demand. On the demand side, we continue to see significant expansion with CPG brands and we have onboarded 100 brands again this quarter. We have momentum with our client partners, and we are pleased to see our 2,700 global brands prioritize Retail Media as a key channel for their investments. This is a trend we expect to continue as first-party data becomes increasingly valuable and brands are looking to reach large global audiences or shoppers.

In Performance Media, revenue was $399 million and Contribution ex-TAC was $204 million, up 13% at constant currency. Again this quarter, we saw impressive growth in Commerce Audiences Targeting up 54% year-over-year and representing 20% of our overall Contribution ex-TAC, as we leverage our large-scale commerce data and AI-powered audience modeling technology to find in-market shoppers. Retargeting was up 4% and supply and ad tech services was up 8%. We benefited from our latest AI-driven performance optimization.

Our platform is built on best-in-class AI and our Criteo AI Lab has 140 R&D and product experts who drive continuous innovation to deliver unparalleled performance for our clients. We delivered solid growth across all regions and had tailwinds in all our verticals. Travel remains robust, and we saw improving retail and classified trends compared to last quarter. We delivered adjusted EBITDA of $71 million in Q1 2024, up 83% year over year, largely driven by operational leverage from topline growth and cost discipline.

Non-GAAP operating expenses were flat year over year, reflecting continued rigor on resource allocation. We invest in our growth areas and enable our transformation through realigning our organization and optimizing our operating model to enable scale and operational efficiencies. We continue to streamline our processes to work better and faster, and we continue to enable efficiency by investing in AI-driven tools this year. Moving down the P&L, depreciation and amortization decreased by 2% in Q1 2024 to $25 million.

Share-based compensation expense was $27 million, including $10 million related to shares granted to Iponweb’s founder as part of the acquisition. Our income from operations was $10 million and our net income was $9 million in Q1 2024. Our weighted average diluted share count was 59.3 million, which resulted in diluted earnings per share of $0.12. Our adjusted diluted EPS was $0.80 in Q1 2024, up 60% year over year.

We continue to benefit from a strong financial position and robust balance sheet, with solid cash generation and no long-term debt. We had about $805 million in total liquidity at the end of March, which gives us significant financial flexibility to execute our growth strategy, and disciplined and balanced capital allocation. As expected, operating cash flow was $40 million and free cash flow was $1 million in Q1, reflecting seasonality and lower capex. Our priorities are to invest in high-ROI organic investments and value-enhancing acquisitions, and to return capital to shareholders via our share buyback program.

We are confident in our business strategy, and we are committed to driving shareholder value. We have a long-standing track record of returning significant capital to shareholders and intend to repurchase $150 million of stock in 2024, including $62 million already deployed in Q1. This includes 2 million shares repurchased at an average cost of $31.1 per share, and we also cancelled 2 million shares in early Q2. Turning to our financial outlook, we have updated our guidance for the year based on our expectations as of today, May 2nd, 2024.

For 2024, we now expect Contribution ex-TAC to grow high single digits year over year at constant currency with growth in both segments. This is an acceleration compared to our organic growth of 4% in 2023. Our updated full-year guidance reflects our Q1 outperformance and Google’s delay of third-party deprecation until early next year. As a reminder, comparisons to the prior year become tougher as we progress through the year.

In Retail Media, while we are still early in the year, given our Q1 performance, we are confident in our ability to deliver Contribution ex-TAC of 20% at constant currency in 2024. This is from a scaled $200 million revenue base and with the impact of our largest client transitioning demand for large brands to a direct sales model, as previously communicated. As a reminder, we also have tougher comparisons for Q3 and Q4, with Q4 being our largest quarter. Importantly, we continue to expect our activated media spend to grow above 30% year over year, faster than Groupon’s estimated market growth of 12%, as we anticipate sustained momentum across our client base and future share gain.

In the fall, we intend to provide an update on the exciting opportunities we believe we have to drive profitable growth and enhance our position as the leading Retail Media ad tech provider. In Performance Media, given our strong performance in Q1, we now expect to grow mid to high single digits in 2024. Our outlook assumes no material signal loss impact this year. We now anticipate an adjusted EBITDA margin of approximately 31% for 2024.

This reflects our operational leverage and the transformation and optimization of our operating model, while investing in areas of growth. For 2024, we now expect a normalized tax rate of 26% to 30%. We expect capex to be slightly below $100 million, and we expect free cash flow conversion rate at about 45% of adjusted EBITDA before any non-recurring items. For Q2 2024, we expect Contribution ex-TAC of $261 million to $265 million, growing by 10% to 12% at constant currency.

We estimate forex changes to drive a negative year-over-year impact of about $2 million to $4 million on Contribution ex-TAC in Q2. We expect adjusted EBITDA between $70 million and $74 million, reflecting year-over-year margin improvement in a seasonally low quarter. In closing, we have strong convictions in our strategy and business model. We are well-positioned for continued success, and we are committed to maximizing shareholder value.

The future is wide open for Criteo. And with that, I’ll turn it over to the operator to begin the Q&A session.

Questions & Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator instructions] The first question comes from the line of Mark Zgutowicz from Benchmark Company. Your line is now open.

Mark ZgutowiczThe Benchmark Company — Analyst

Thank you. A couple of questions. I was curious how much cookie deprecation being pushed into ’25 is impacting your annual guidance. And if you could possibly break out the benefit that you anticipate from retargeting this year and perhaps maybe offset to Commerce Audiences.

And then perhaps a question for Todd. Based on what you perceive the CMA is looking for, just curious how you would handicap the timing of ’25 deprecation in terms of the first quarter versus second quarter of next year or even the second half. Thanks.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Actually, let me just start. Mark, good to hear from you and great questions, sort of top of mind at the moment. I just want to say that we do see a benefit from cookie deprecation being pushed out to ’24, and I’ll get Sarah to talk to what that looks like for us, as much as she can, going into next year. But what I think Todd will also talk to is the work that we’ve been doing to leapfrog, having to use third-party cookies or using third-party cookies in our retargeting business through the work that he’s doing with the next-generation model here.

The longer this goes out on, the further we get traction on that next generation model. The longer this goes on, the smaller the impact is on Criteo’s overall portfolio because the retargeting business, as compared to the high growth areas, gets less, gets smaller. So I sort of started off framing that, and then I’ll pass it across to Sarah, if you want to talk to the dollars first.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yes. Hi, Mark. First of all, in terms of the delay of the Privacy Sandbox, for 2024 you could model assuming about $35 million of impact. We had previously communicated $30 million to $40 million impact in 2024.

In terms of next year’s impact, kind of similar modeling to what we’ve said before, which is that retargeting is now less than 50% of our overall CXT. Chrome is approximately 50% of that. Our assumption today, obviously it could get better, is that we’d retain about 60% of that. But overall, we would have about a 10% impact of overall CXP, depending on and how the signal loss takes place next year.

In terms of retargeting for the year, as you know, it’s a very effective, resilient tactic that’s loved by our clients. So we were very pleased to see the growth in Q1. We have benefited from two things. First of all, the AI and continued enhancement in AI.

And secondly, the extension with Meta that we have on retargeting. So we would assume that given there’s no PSP impact and the continued performance that we’re seeing that retargeting would remain resilient. And just to clarify, the 10% would be of CXT for 2025 impact, if you’re thinking for modeling purposes.

Todd ParsonsChief Product Officer

I can jump in on the last part. Mark, how are you? I think there’s two dimensions that are important to point out as we look at the delay. The first is really, you know, the benefit of industry readiness as it relates to the delay. Obviously, more participants across the industry make for more trading in a functioning market on the supply between the supply and demand sides.

We see that as upside for Criteo. The second thing is, of course, the additional time for us helps us focus our performance pipeline, which was, you know, entirely built around Privacy Sandbox or a new pipeline, I should say, was built around Privacy Sandbox. It affords us time to continue to develop and innovate that, which is very much in our control. So there are two things that we look at as positives with the delay out into the beginning of the year.

In terms of handicapping anything further, we don’t. We’re prepared for any scenario. And as Megan pointed out, because we’ve been planning for Privacy Sandbox for over two years and developing on it, and because we have a multi-pronged strategy for post-cookie addressability, you know, we’re prepared for anything and we’re well ahead. So time is time.

We’ll take and do what we can with it. But we’re happy to see the way things are unfolding currently.

Mark ZgutowiczThe Benchmark Company — Analyst

Excellent. Thank you, all. Appreciate it.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Tim Nollen from Macquarie. Your line is now open.

Tim NollenMacquarie Group — Analyst

All right. Thanks. I’d just like to pick up on the retargeting line. I know it’s obviously not your most important business line anymore and that’s great, but if I look back and if I have my numbers right, this is the first time it was in positive growth since Q3 of ’21 I think.

I just wonder if you can give a bit more color as to why that swung so nicely positive in the quarter. Thanks.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Let me just — it’s important to know, it’s always been an important product in our portfolio because it addresses the need of advertisers who are wanting to reach the same consumer multiple times to get their attention. And so we continue to see advertisers coming to us for that tactic and retargeting. So you know, we’re delighted to see the turnaround there. And it’s been, you know, based on a whole bunch of work that’s gone into the product itself, whether that be using the AI technology for performance, whether that’s been extending out into closed environments in the case of right now, the Meta environment where we see an uptick, and the power of this cross-sale activity that’s going on to help advertisers use the right tactic and get access to their ad spend to move it between retargeting and Commerce Audiences in order for them to get the right results.

And so this sort of combination of focusing in on it, because it is needed and will always be by marketers, has sort of led to some green shoots for us, and we’re thrilled by that. If you want to add anything else?

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yes, let me just add, it helps that we don’t have impact of signal loss and we’re able to use our AI to go and enhance our clients’ experiences and get higher ROA. So last year, Q1, Q2, we had signal loss about $4 million per quarter, Q1, Q2 ’23. And obviously, in 2022, we had an incremental signal loss of about $60 million. So the teams are able to just really take that AI to a different level to not only refine signal, to use the multi-pronged approach to addressability and then to continue to extend that signal.

So it’s — we’re very happy with the retargeting. Also just to add, and as we said, retarget — most of our clients, about 75% of our CXT for Performance Media are clients that are using both retargeting and Commerce Audience, and interplays between those and our AI technology also ensures that we optimize the way that we’re using that budgets to do both. And that’s been also a strong performance indicator for Performance Media overall. But for retargeting and for Commerce Audience — so we are seeing more budgets coming in.

Tim NollenMacquarie Group — Analyst

Great. Thanks for the color. Thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ygal Arounian from Citigroup. Your line is now open.

Ygal ArounianCiti — Analyst

Good morning, everyone. Certainly nice to see strength coming across all three of your lines here, I guess now two segments, but really all three business lines. I guess with the questions on retargeting, Commerce Audiences, I’ll focus on Retail Media for a bit. Maybe specifically on the agency side, because it seems like you’re gaining more traction there.

It sounds like that’s coming at least a bit off the back of Commerce Max. And you mention all the new CPG brands that are coming onboard as well. Can you just elaborate on the agency channel, you know, where we are with that opportunity? And if you can point to how much of the growth is coming from there directly, just what else we can understand from there?

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Yes, I’ll start. Sarah can talk about the growth. Look, agencies have access to national media budgets, as you know. And so the analog, I guess, for Retail Media is the flow of those national media budgets into Retail Media, meaning that most of the dollars — and I don’t want to — you’ll know this, but I’ll repeat it, most of the dollars in Retail Media are coming from trade marketing budgets, budgets that are spent on advertising in store.

And that’s unique to Retail Media because clearly those budgets don’t flow across into other media. But the unlock is when retail media gets access to the national media budgets that are coming through the agencies, the brands to agencies, and then into media. And it was really interesting listening to the dialogue at ShopTalk this year about how many retailers and brands are trying to work out how to unlock. Now, you’d think that was crazy because brands are the key to it.

But brands are actually leaning in. They are looking for more holistic spend. They’re looking for an easier way to place their advertising dollars and not have to decide between trade marketing and the national media budget. So you know, as that unlocks, then we see more and more and more flow through the agencies.

And the second part of it, of course, is to make it easy for the agencies to make those choices by giving them a platform that’s easy to use and a platform that gives them access to the amount of retailers that we have in the network to be able to spend those national media budgets. And then, the third part of that I alluded to on the call was the power of measurement, is to be able to unlock that measurement for agencies, to be able to prove the success of it and compare it to the other mediums that they’re placing their advertising dollars across. So all of these things, these moving parts, are powerful moving parts which ultimately are just driving more and more unlock into retail media. It is still early days, and so we see our relationships with agencies being incredibly powerful and exactly where we want them to be right now.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

And just a reminder, the three holdcos grew double — sorry, triple digits. So in terms of just the take-up of the agency with the brands, we are seeing that traction and we expect that to continue. So we have signed contracts with all the key holdcos and not just in the U.S., but globally. And obviously, that’s a huge part of our strategy.

Ygal ArounianCiti — Analyst

Thank you. And then just a broader question. As we get through earnings here, this really seems like one of the strongest ad markets we’ve seen in quite some time. Pretty much every one we’ve been paying attention to has reported results ahead of expectations.

Can you just help us characterize what you’re seeing from the ad market? I know, Sarah, you gave some color but, you know, maybe just more broadly, are you seeing things improve? What’s the tone you’re hearing from advertisers? Anything else to help paint the picture there? Thanks.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yes, I mean, we saw traction coming from Q4, which obviously was a very healthy quarter coming into Q1. So I would say, you know, we’re seeing that kind of continued robust demand, if you will. We’re also seeing, especially if you look year on year, big changes in terms of the retail, especially department stores, fashion, travel continues to be robust, classified. So we are seeing across the board that the market we’re in today, which is similar to the market we were seeing in Q4, is continuing versus Q1 last year, which is obviously a low watermark for the spend.

Ygal ArounianCiti — Analyst

Great. Thank you so much.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Mark Kelley. Your line is now open.

Mark KelleyStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

Great. Thank you. Good morning. My first question is just on the competitive dynamics in Retail Media, especially on the supply side.

Curious to get your thoughts there, if anything’s changed, given you guys continue to gain share. And then, second question is just on the updated guide for the full year. When I look at the, you know, incremental revenue to EBITDA flow-through, it looks like you’re reinvesting some of that incremental, you know, rev ex-TAC back into the business. A, am I right? And B, I guess, you know, where are those investments? Thank you.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

I’ll start with — sorry, hi Mark, great question. I’ll start with sort of digging deep into the competition size. It’s — you know, I talked in the opening remarks about how, you know, and how far ahead we are in terms of scale and in terms of our share of voice, I guess, shared market. It seems to get wider.

We just — we see very fragmented, sort of, smaller competitive environment through — I guess, France has a very different marketplace where there’s a number of, you know, much smaller players and of course we’ve got the Publicis play there. But again, they’re a very small compared to where we are in the scheme of things. So we used to talk about some competitors that, you know, we were more concerned about in the past but less concerned about today because we’ve moved so far ahead. And I think, you know, again if I go back to listening to our clients, what they like about us is this network effect, so the network builds a network, momentum drives momentum, and the more that we’re investing for those clients building the services and the functions and features that they’re looking for, the more they want to couple onto that and the more momentum you get in terms of share.

And so we’re very focused on serving the clients that we have because they will attract more share. Again, you know, small fragmented space everywhere else, but were just laser focused on moving further and further away and investing in those things that delight our clients and bring differentiation.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yes, and I can take I guess the guidance question. So in terms of 2024 guidance, yes, we did update the guidance to reflect the Q1 outperformance. We also of course added back the Privacy Sandbox pushback. The guidance is now high single-digit growth that we’re anticipating.

In terms of how that flows through to the margin, we banked the over-performance in the Q1 EBITDA, so that’s been banked. The PSP pushback, you kind of see this is like 50-50, so 50% is to look at reinvestments and to accelerate, as we talked before about ways to do that in a smarter way, and then we get about 50% operational leverage from that. And it really is about smart investments, so you know, we continue to get asked from the business. And I would say most of them make sense.

And as we saw from the Q1 results, you know, we’re delivering. So that’s our focus. It’s all, I would say, relatively incremental, so we do see the flow-through coming into the EBITDA line and we would continue to expect that. On the other side, there is some FX drag, so that’s just, you know, one kind of call-out just on what’s also impacting EBITDA.

Mark KelleyStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

All right. Perfect. Thank you both.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Doug Anmuth from J.P. Morgan. Your line is now open.

Katy AnselJPMorgan Chase and Company — Analyst

Hi, guys. This is Katy on for Doug. Thanks for taking the questions. I wanted to dive in a little bit more to the later cookie deprecation.

I guess, I’m curious from your perspective, what is giving them the most power to drive the delay? Do you think it’s that Google solutions need some more work, the industry needs some better solutions, marketers need more time, just trying to understand, you know, from your perspective where the biggest gaps exist today. That’s one. And then two, as you look down to 2025, you mentioned the 10% impact to Contribution ex-TAC. I know you’re not providing a formal outlook at this time, but can you just walk through the puts and takes and how we should think about that flow-through to profitability in the adjusted EBITDA line? Thanks.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Let me push the first one across to Todd.

Todd ParsonsChief Product Officer

Yes. Hi, Katy. How are you doing? Just really pretty straightforward on your question about, you know, what’s driving. One can assume that the delay — if you’re reading and following the CMA outlook on this, it’s really tied to — you know, mostly to industry readiness and participation toward a functioning market.

And what I said before about enough trading volumes between label supply and DSPs participating. So this is — one could imply that this is what is driving the delay most. As I mentioned, you know, our view of the delay is we’ll use whatever time we have to continue building our advantage in the tech pipelines that we’ve built. And of course, we’re working actively with Google to continue debugging the Privacy Sandbox, both with the Chrome and the GAM teams.

So you know, for us, we’re in a great position and there are a lot of folks that we’re helping bring along to be ready to participate in the process.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yes, in terms of the — first of all, we’re really not going to guide for 2025. So that wasn’t the intent when talking about the impact of Private Sandbox delay. Now that being said, we are seeing the operational leverage flow through to EBITDA. It’s obviously a critical metric for us.

And our expectation is that we will continue to keep everything in balance, the topline, the EBITDA line, you know, with continued reinvestment into growth areas. So I would assume for modeling purposes that we continue to drive, I would say, a very healthy EBITDA margin, with the operational leverage that we’re already seeing through our transformation and assuming that we continue to ensure that we are working as effectively and smartly as we can, with modern and continued, I would say, new skill sets coming into our operating model.

Katy AnselJPMorgan Chase and Company — Analyst

That’s helpful. Thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Tom White from Davidson. Your line is now open.

Tom WhiteD.A. Davidson — Analyst

Great. Good morning. Thanks for taking my questions. Just on the retargeting commentary and the growth that you guys saw there in the quarter, I’m curious whether you’re seeing any advertisers that have opted to kind of push ahead maybe with increased commitment to retargeting spend, kind of, since we’ve gotten the news about the Google delay.

I realize that, you know, retargeting is more of like a set it and forget it type product, but just curious whether, you know, that news is bringing any customers back in the near term in order to kind of capitalize here over the next few months. And then, sorry if I missed it, but any way you can quantify the impact of the cross-selling to that uplift in retargeting that you discussed? Thanks.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

In terms of customers coming back, no, customers mostly want — they expect their ad tech provider to solve this for them. They need the tactic and they want us to find a way to get a message out to a consumer once, twice, three times. And they’ve never changed their view of that tactic because of what Google’s doing. They have wanted to use it while it’s there and continue to have access to it and ultimately have their ad tech provider solve that issue for them, which is testament to, you know, our performance and our performance media business, because it is about clients working with us, because they know that they’re in good hands, that we’re a long way ahead when it comes to keeping continuity for them in this tactic and in the Commerce Audience tactic or more upper funnel performance tactic after cookie deprecation through our next-generation addressability model.

So long answer to a quick and very good question, Tom, no, it’s not changed our client behavior. We’re just bringing, you know, better and better and better performance and results for our clients, which is what you’re seeing here.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yes, just in terms of commerce audience, that’s about, as I said, 75% of our clients are buying both retargeting and Commerce Audience. The impact on retargeting and the shift from retargeting to Commerce Audience was actually quite small for the quarter, smaller than we saw in Q4. We also do think that the AI enhancements — I mean, that goes across all the tactics that we do. So that’s driving both — growth in both retargeting and Commerce Audience CXT.

Tom WhiteD.A. Davidson — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Brian Fitzgerald from Wells Fargo. Your line is now open.

Brian FitzgeraldWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Thanks, guys. We wanted to ask about the overall activity levels in programmatic market that you’re observing through Iponweb. Google Network reported double-digit declines in impressions last week. Are you seeing weakness in volumes or any trends you can discuss there? We’ve heard there were some headwinds around social media algorithms and traffic referrals out into the open web, but wanted to ask what you’re seeing.

Todd ParsonsChief Product Officer

I can take that one, Brian. I think — I mean, first of all, we don’t tear into the details of what we see between trading pairs and trading partners. I think it goes without saying that different trading pairs and different partners will change their traffic patterns based on strategies that they tune over time. That’s nothing new with programmatic.

Everybody’s moving toward the most efficient supply paths and they’re doing whatever traffic shaping they need to do to get that to happen. So we see that all the time. People change and they move around. But, you know, ultimately, we’re just trying to connect the two parties and have them trade more on whichever supply path optimization strategy they deploy.

Brian FitzgeraldWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Got it. Thanks, Todd. Appreciate it.

Todd ParsonsChief Product Officer

You bet.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Richard Kramer from Arete Research. Your line is now open.

Richard KramerArete Research — Analyst

Thanks very much. Megan, you spoke a lot about the completeness of your offering spanning the retailer, publishers and advertisers and agencies. And you’ve also talked in the past how some competitors were sort of point solutions and mentioned being the alternative to Amazon. So my question for you is, what would mark success for Criteo becoming the sort of de facto industry alternative or standard? And what are the proof points of that? Are you seeing now higher win rates and direct pitches? Can you get agencies to secure preferred relationships despite some of their own investments? So you know, what are the couple of things you’re looking forward to say we’ve really put the complete distance between ourselves and rivals? And then, one — another one for Sarah.

You know, an issue that’s been raised over the past year or so is the volatility in some of the forecasts since Investor Day. And you’ve now had several quarters where you were able to meet or exceed expectations. What do you attribute that to? Is it that Retail Media is becoming more mature, that you’re getting more clarity in the sales pipeline or there’s some other factors that are making you more confident being able to forecast and hit the numbers? Thanks.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Hi, Richard. Great question me on the spot, although it’s — I think it’s a pretty straightforward one and we would love to be the size of Amazon in terms of the advertising that’s flowing through there, let me caveat that. And we’re not — and again, we’re agnostic in all of this. So we’re an ad tech provider who’s joining one side to the other.

So in the — you know, in the spirit of that, we would love to be that size or a complementary choice to buy on Amazon or a buy on Walmart would be a buy on — across Criteo’s Retail Media network. For us, I think, you know, the — I talked about it before, it’s the unlock of those national budgets where by — when you’re an agency and you’re looking to spend your dollars, you’re spending it across such social and retail, and when it comes to retail, you’re buying, you know, maybe Amazon, maybe Walmart and then definitely Criteo. And so that our retailers are getting a fair share of the spend that’s coming into Retail Media. And that growth because — becomes, you know, somewhere where the evidence of performance is measured through measurement.

And it is a performance vehicle because you’re getting to consumers that are close to the point of sale using first-party data. And so it’s a, you know, dark, gracious place to advertise. For us, we’ve got to serve our clients. We need to make sure that in order to do that and unlock that spend, continue to get the trade marketing spend across and start to make sure that we’re at the table next to an Amazon, is to continue to invest in our clients, stay close to them, scale them, get more supply available on their properties, fulfill their fill rates, bring more formats to them, help them drive advertising, not just on site but off-site.

All of these things, that is the power and I guess the magic of Retail Media, us leaning into that and bringing that to life over the next years is what’s going to get us to the place that we want to be, which is the ultimate compliment to an Amazon Buy. So you know, watch this space.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Yeah. And I guess if I address the other part of your question, yes, we feel very good about the performance we delivered in 2023 and well, obviously coming into Q1 ’24, as well as the guidance for the year. Of course, the whole industry was impacted by the advertising recession starting off just after our earnings day in late 2022. But we feel very, very good about our business.

Our strategy stays intact. We’ve continued to drive topline and bottom-line performance. We obviously have an incredible balance sheet. On Retail Media, you know, we have a scaled base of $200 million with the only independent ad tech platform that’s showing their Retail Media numbers.

And we’re growing all sectors of that, from our largest clients all the way through to our newer clients. So all in all, we’re feeling pretty good about life.

Richard KramerArete Research — Analyst

OK. Thanks.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Melanie DambreVice President, Investor Relations

Thank you.

Operator

There are no further questions. Please go ahead.

Melanie DambreVice President, Investor Relations

Yes, thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thanks, Megan, Sarah, and Todd. This now concludes our call for today.

The Investor Relations team is available for any additional questions. Have a great day.

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Thank you. Bye-bye.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 0 minutes

Call participants:

Melanie DambreVice President, Investor Relations

Megan ClarkenChief Executive Officer

Sarah GlickmanChief Financial Officer

Mark ZgutowiczThe Benchmark Company — Analyst

Todd ParsonsChief Product Officer

Tim NollenMacquarie Group — Analyst

Ygal ArounianCiti — Analyst

Mark KelleyStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

Katy AnselJPMorgan Chase and Company — Analyst

Tom WhiteD.A. Davidson — Analyst

Brian FitzgeraldWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Richard KramerArete Research — Analyst

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