Ad Tech Vet Jason Kelly Brings Programmatic Mindset To Airline Industry

Jason Kelly is returning to his old stomping grounds, the flight travel industry, with the launch of an airline revenue management system (RMS) called Kambr, backed by a $4 million funding round.

Kelly spent a decade managing online sales and revenue for airlines before getting into advertising technology in 2007 with Rapt, a digital monetization company acquired by Microsoft a year later. Later he was CRO of Admeld when it sold to Google in 2011, CEO of the DSP Sociomantic when it sold to Tesco’s Dunnhumby in 2014 and president of SSP Millennial Media when it sold to AOL in 2015.

“This revolution happened with media and advertising technology and with retail with ecommerce, and there are principles of that to be applied in the airline industry,” Kelly said.

Airlines have gotten smarter about using ad tech tools to, say, direct traffic to unfilled flights. But they should be using systems more like digital media SSPs to optimize yield per seat and flight, he said.

Kambr’s clients are airline revenue analysts, not marketing teams. But Kelly said there’s still a need for real-time controls and algorithmic decision-making over where and when they book flights.

A flight might fill more seats with one online booking vendor but sell at a higher price with another. Some flights are more lucrative per-seat because of inflight costs and airline up-charges.

Real-time data and traffic flow is the lifeblood of companies in ad tech. But the technology principles underlying DSPs, DMPs and CDPs are just now being plugged into other industries.

Kelly isn’t the only ad tech exec who sees an opportunity to apply programmatic and data-driven principles in fresh industries.

Just last week, ad tech godfather Brian O’Kelley launched CMDTY, a software business for tracking physical commodities like iron, copper and coffee beans. Paul Pellman was director of Google’s attribution and analytics since 2014, when the tech giant acquired Adometry, the attribution startup where he served as CEO. But he took over as CEO of the HR software company Kazoo earlier this year.

The company has also launched Kambr Media, a B2B news and content marketing site.

Skift, a B2B travel industry media company, does a good job covering data and technology in travel and hospitality, Kelly said. “But there was a need for something going deeper specifically on revenue management.”

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