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Why Criteo Stock Plunged Today

By Steve Symington – Updated Apr 15, 2019 at 3:01PM

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Google is reportedly mulling changes that could affect third-party advertisers.

What happened

Shares of Criteo (CRTO 2.97%) were down 11.5% as of 3:30 p.m. EDT Monday after a report that Alphabet's (GOOG 2.26%) (GOOGL 2.40%) Google is considering implementing new restrictions on how it handles third-party advertisements.

More specifically, according to a report from Adweek over the weekend, "a number of different working groups across [Google] have been tasked in recent months with exploring how advertising will evolve" in both its popular Chrome web browser and the Google Marketing Platform.

Stock market charts on a colrful display indicating losses


So what

Google has made no final decisions on its potential changes. But Adweek's sources say the end result seems likely to "impact how ad-tech vendors operate within [Chrome]."

For investors, these changes understandably stoke fear that they could do outsized harm to ad-retargeting companies like Criteo. In late 2017, Criteo shares fell given headwinds created by Apple's rollout of new Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) technology for its iOS platform and Safari web browser.

Check out the latest earnings call transcripts for Criteo and Alphabet.

Now what

To be fair, Criteo has also worked hard in recent quarters to build its own multiproduct platform, and to capture incremental sales from what management describes as the ad industry's "virtual duopoly" of Facebook and Google. So investors can take some solace knowing Criteo is well aware of these industry dynamics, and is striving to reduce any dependency it has on these digital advertising juggernauts. As such, while shareholders should keep a close eye on the situation, I'm not convinced this knee-jerk reaction is merited.

Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, and Facebook. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple and long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Criteo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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