Performance marketing technology company Criteo has begun operations in MENA, having launched its regional Dubai hub in May last year, setting its sights on growing demand for enhanced online and mobile engagement.

Dirk Henke, the group’s Munich-based managing director of emerging markets, will be stepping into the region to oversee business, while continuing to run further operations in Turkey and Russia.

Criteo intends to seize on the region’s huge potential for online advertising – predicted to take a rise in spend of approximately $707 million in 2013, to $2.46 billion in 2018 according to PwC – as a result of increased smartphone penetration and adoption of high-speed internet within an affluent population.

With a client base that includes online merchants MarkaVIP, and, Criteo has been active in the region for a couple of years already, but announced the decision to stoke up its presence at the ArabNet Digital Summit 2015.

‘Exciting crossroads’

The group is now looking to strengthen its ties in the booming e-commerce landscape, continuing to support advertisers in the region to “address and convert” an online consumer base on multiple devices.

“E-commerce in the Middle East is at an exciting crossroads. Understandably, advertisers and marketers are vying to secure a sizeable online presence, and to do so better and faster than the rest. Criteo is specially equipped to deliver these market needs,” said Henke.

“We are excited to increase our regional presence with our new regional hub at a time when businesses in the Middle East are wired for positive change, and Criteo looks forward to supporting new and existing clients in implementing effective digital strategies.”

Investor doubts

The ad tech firm’s growth ambitions and associated expenditure may have come at the cost of share prices, however, which took a dip at the turn of the year.

Pacific Crest has cut the group’s stock price target from $65 to $58. Doubts have emerged over growth sustainability and whether a prospective client, online retailer Alibaba, could come forward as a major partner.

Last month Criteo installed former COO Eric Eichmann as CEO, succeeding the company’s founder JB Rudelle.