Travel Ad Network CEO Silver Discusses Funding Climate, New $15 Million Series C Round

Travel Ad NetworkEarlier in the week, Travel Ad Network (TAN) announced a Series C round of funding led by StarVest Partners. TAN consists of “more than 36 million monthly unique visitors worldwide” through its ad network of travel-related websites. Read the release.

Travel Ad Network CEO Brian Silver discussed the funding process and the vertical ad network model. Can you drill down on what you’ll do with the $15 million in series C financing? Will you acquire more travel sites, for example?

We are looking to build our leading travel vertical position with acquition of sites, content and travel tools that assist consumers in travel planning.

What was the funding climate like? And, why was StarVest Partners a good fit to lead this round?

  1. The good news is that investors are actively looking to put money to work in the digital space. That said, they seem to be making decisions on a very company specific basis, as opposed to rushing in to make a bet on a macro trend.
  2. Investors were focused on our momentum, the growth opportunities in front of us and our management team. We were fortunate in the our story resonated with several firms and so we could chose with whom we wanted to partner.
  3. Climate was fairly active. We found that there was a limited number of opportunistic investment discussion and most of the investors we talked with stayed on their strategic investment plan (stage, size, etc)
  4. StarVest is a wonderful addition to Rho and Village Venture primarily because they also truly believe in the power of scale of audience and content for both consumers and advertisers.
  5. StarVest also distinguishes itself from its competition by making significant customer and partnership introductions – this is what growing companies need most
  6. StarVest’s history of success in their targeted investment sectors – technology-enabled business services.
  7. StarVest research-driven, proactive investment process.
  8. NY based

In September, vertical site network Internet Brands was acquired for $600 million+ by a private equity firm, you’ve been funded, other vertical ad networks are reporting success. With all the talk about audience buying, it seems placement still matters. Why?

Contextual relevance will always matter. The powerful position is a targeted audience on quality placement (trusted sites).

There is a lot of buzz about audience targeting but the truth is that today it only represents less than 15% of display revenue and 5% of total online revenue according to an eMarketer study. It is certainly a growth area for the industry and for TAN but for now contextual is still dominant.

The travel brands who advertise with us are looking for premium, brand-safe environments alongside related content that we offer at unmatched scale along with very strong performance.

When an advertiser can reach a consumer in the actual session when they are researching a trip, there is an unmatched advertising impact created. Audience relevancy along with contextual relevancy only improves the impact.

By John Ebbert

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