Shares in retargeting company Criteo have taken a dive after it was reported that Google is considering changes to its ad tools that would make it more difficult to target ads through its Chrome browser.
If true it will be the third technology industry giant to have introduced changes hostile to the French retargeting company’s business model, along with Apple and Facebook.
Shares were down 17 per cent overnight, over fear Google is considering introducing cookie-tracking restrictions in Chrome. And its value is down more than 65 per cent from its peak in May 2017.
Trade Desk shares were also down around 5 per cent on yesterday’s report.
Adweek said that Google is “contemplating a number of changes to its consumer- and advertiser-facing tools” which prioritise privacy and may have widespread ramifications for third-party ad tech vendors.
According to Adweek’s sources, working groups have been formed to consider how Chrome and the Google Marketing Platform operate, which could result in changes to Chrome that could impact how ad-tech vendors operate within the web browser.
The report notes no final decisions have been made and Google declined to comment.
However, that was enough for analysts at KeyBanc and SunTrust to downgrade Criteo, saying if Google blocks third-party tracking in Chrome, there would be a “massive disruption to Criteo and the digital ad industry.”
The Adweek report drew comparisons with Apple’s Safari restrictions, known as intelligence tracking prevention, which limits the ability to collect information on website visitors that is used to retarget advertising based on a user’s cookies.
“Incentives and anti-trust issues make a full [Intelligent Tracking Prevention]-like solution in Chrome very unlikely, in our view,” wrote KeyBanc’s Andy Hargreaves.
“However, we will not be able to disprove the bear case until Google provides more clarity on its plans, which is likely to create an overhang on CRTO that we do not expect to ease in the near term.”
In December 2017 Criteo shares fell more than 22 per cent when the French company told the market Apple’s ITP measure would have a bigger impact on its revenue than initially forecast.
And late last year Facebook decertified the company as a marketing partner and analysts at Goldman Sachs issued an unfavourable note on the subject.