Criteo creates an AI lab in Paris

Adtech company Criteo is investing $23 million (€20 million) in a new artificial intelligence lab in Paris. Over the next three years, the company plans to hire researchers to work on AI-related projects.

Many of their projects will lead to public presentations, open-source releases and research papers. VP of Research Suju Rajan is going to lead the lab.

Many tech companies have created AI labs in Paris, including Facebook, Google, IBM and Samsung. All those companies want to hire the best AI researchers. That’s why they open multiple AI research centers around the world — to attract local talent in multiple countries.

Criteo has been a flagship company in the French tech scene. The company specialized in ad retargeting and filed for an IPO around five years ago.

But retargeting isn’t really popular right now. Some internet browsers, such as Firefox and Safari, have started offering tracking protection and enabling it by default. Criteo’s ads are much less effective if the company can’t track users around the web.

Similarly, many European users are now opting out of data sharing with adtech companies thanks to GDPR’s mandatory consent pop-ups.

That’s why Criteo shares haven’t been performing well lately. Shares were trading at around $54 per share in April 2017. Ten months later, you could buy shares for $24 — that’s a 56 percent drop.

Criteo needs to diversify its product portfolio and find new ways to make ads effective again. Existing methods involving third-party cookies, browser fingerprinting and a ton of JavaScript embeds won’t work forever.