Customer Story

Criteo Boosts Performance, Scale of Digital Ad Platform with Couchbase Server

About Criteo

Criteo delivers personalized performance marketing at an extensive scale. Measuring return on post-click sales, Criteo makes ROI transparent and easy to measure. Criteo has over 1,600 employees in 27 offices across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific, serving over 8,500 advertisers worldwide and with direct relationships with over 10,000 publishers.




Couchbase Server

NoSQL Use Cases



Ad Technology 



Paris, France 



  • Delivering millisecond response time that advertisers depend on 
  • Targeting users and publishers in real time and precisely leveraging complex data
  • Replicating active data reliably to geographically diverse data centers 



Couchbase Server, chosen for its unparalleled ability to manage high numbers of requests and very low latencies.



  • Scalability to handle 30B ads daily 
  • Real time bidding response times of 50-100 ms 
  • Replication across seven data centers 

Criteo is a digital-advertising giant that reaches over a billion unique Internet users around the world every month. Their engine automates the recommendation of ads and the selection of products from advertiser catalogs—30 billion times daily, in less than 100 milliseconds after a calculation involving over 100 variables.

At this volume, performance and scale are critical to delivering the right ad to the right visitor at the right time. Criteo chose Couchbase Server over other databases that they tested for their use case, because of Couchbase’s unparalleled ability to manage high numbers of requests and very low latencies.


Immediate response for real-time bidding

Criteo uses predictive algorithms and extensive data on consumer intent and purchasing habits to price and deliver personalized ads. “To serve the right personalized ad, we need technical solutions that let us target visitors in real time and precisely leverage complex data,” says Nicolas Helleringer, Criteo site reliability engineering manager. “We need real-time access to a great deal of user data, and we can’t get it with relational databases.”


The company, which served 741 billion ads in 2014, tried several other NoSQL databases before turning to Couchbase. “We found that Couchbase Server was ideally suited to deliver the scale and performance we needed in certain data areas,” says Romain Niccoli, Criteo co-founder and chief technology officer.


“Couchbase Server lets us handle the load and satisfy the absolute necessity of answering real-time bidding (RTB) requests in a timely manner,” Nicolas Helleringer adds. “No other SQL or NoSQL solution supported us in that way. The reliability and the ease with which Couchbase Server scales as we grow is precisely what we needed. And it continues to respond to RTB requests in milliseconds—which is really, really fast.”


Smooth transition onto 1000+ servers


Criteo deployed Couchbase Server in 2011 without any issues. “It was a smooth deployment with respect to performance and scale,” Nicolas Helleringer says. “We used Couchbase Server in a small project at first. For months and months it grew in usage, because it was delivering the performance we were looking for. It has been very, very productive.


The global ad-serving giant’s Couchbase Server installation has grown quite large, to over a 1000 servers in 24 clusters, totaling 107 terabytes of RAM and solid state drive (SSD) space. “We’re using automation to deploy to bare metal servers,” Nicolas Helleringer explains. “Couchbase Server is part of that infrastructure. We’ve deployed to hundreds of servers with Chef, a tool for automating the process of provisioning and configuring servers and the software they run.”


Couchbase Server also supports cross-data center replication (XDCR), which in Couchbase Server involves replicating active data to multiple, geographically diverse data centers, either for disaster recovery or to bring data closer to its users for faster access. Criteo relies on XDCR to replicate data reliably to seven datacenters around the world. This puts the data closer to the user, so Criteo can deliver the right ads even faster.


ROI and an edge on competitors


Couchbase Server has already yielded a return on investment for Criteo. “With 73 percent year-over-year growth, we will continue to expand our Couchbase Server deployment to deliver the millisecond response times that our advertisers depend on to reach their target consumers,” Romain Niccoli says.

The Couchbase Server reporting tools have greatly reduced the time and effort that Criteo needs to manage its deployment, enabling more strategic use of the technical staff. “The technology lets us stay ahead of our competitors,” Nicolas Helleringer adds. “It’s also easy to manage and requires little administrative overhead, even with a large scale like ours.” 


Consistent performance, no downtime


Many of the NoSQL databases the company had tried earlier were “really difficult and complex to operate,” Nicolas Helleringer says. With Couchbase Server, “We have a reliable NoSQL database that provides consistent performance without issues or downtime.”


Most effective NoSQL solution


“For our workload and performance requirements—and we’re not the only company with high throughput, low-latency demands—Couchbase Server is the ideal solution that combines the massive power we need while being extremely easy to use,” Nicolas Helleringer says. 

“ For our workload and performance requirements — and we’re not the only company with high throughput, low-latency demands — Couchbase Server is the ideal solution that combines the massive power we need while being extremely easy to use. ”

Nicolas Helleringer , Site Reliability Engineering Manager at Criteo