Brian Silver is CEO of Travel Ad Network, an online advertising company.
AdExchanger.com: Please discuss the pivots that Travel Ad Network (TAN) has made since its inception in 2003.
TAN was bootstrapped from inception through its first institutional round in March 2008 when the company raised $15mm in Series A financing led by Rho Ventures and Village Ventures. Since then, the company expanded its management team starting with the promotion of myself to CEO in March 2009, and with the additions of Dana Hayes (Chief Revenue Officer) and Bill Knudson (Chief Financial Officer). Under this new leadership, TAN has grown revenue more than 30% each quarter YoY despite the economic and advertising industry headwinds in 2009.
How are you differentiating TAN from other media buying opportunities in the digital media space?
TAN is the second largest travel property in the world, with more than 30 million unique visitors worldwide each month (comScore, June 2010). With this scale, we can deliver the appropriate ad utilizing audience and contextual relevancy across a single platform. That said, I think you will see us taking steps that look more like a media company than a vertical ad network.
What trends are you seeing today from your advertisers and publishers?
Advertisers are looking for bigger, more high-impact units. As mobile, video and online begin to converge, ad technology is moving away from standard placements and towards more intrusive pushdowns, screen takeovers, etc. There is also increased demand for mobile opportunities, as well as social. Advertisers are also becoming more selective in terms of publishers, as they look for unique brands to align themselves with.
Publishers are becoming more flexible to respond to these advertiser needs, while at the same time, looking for greater granularity and insights into their audience to remain competitive.
Does TAN enable audience buying? For example, will TAN allow a buyer to use eXelate or BlueKai cookies to buy across its ad network?
No, TAN’s exclusive audience is solely for the advertisers with which we work.
What can you say about the health of the vertical ad network model today?
The vertical ad network model could not be healthier. The key is to go deeper in each vertical-- having the scale to attract advertisers as well as unique products and services for greater yield and monetization. The ability to leverage technology to segment and deliver that audience to the appropriate advertiser is crucial.
Does a vertical ad network need differentiating technology? Does TAN have differentiating technology?
TAN’s market position is not just about our technology. We have been able to aggregate the second largest travel audience in the world, and we can deliver that audience, as well as slice and dice our inventory to meet our advertisers’ contextual needs.
How are ad exchanges and publisher aggregators impacting your business? Is TAN able to get on top of these options in the publishers ad stack?
The ad exchanges and aggregators are not impacting our business. TAN’s relationships are completely exclusive. We don’t sell our unused inventory on ad exchanges and we don’t sell our data to data exchanges.
As a premium advertising solution vendor, TAN has developed a quality behavioral network inclusive of TAN exclusive relationships, non-exclusive Tier-1 and Tier-2 publishing relationships as well as exchange-based inventory. Our behavioral network is not on 100% remnant inventory which is a major distinction. The proof is in the performance. We know travel better than anyone in our competitive set and we know which sites perform for travel advertisers. We are constantly adjusting/optimizing the behavioral network as well as adjusting for recency and frequency based on our expertise in travel— we have different standard operating procedures for a luxury hotel vs. a domestic airline vs. a tourism board.
One year from today, what milestones would you like to have seen Travel Ad Network achieve?
TAN has accelerated its business tremendously in the last year. We look to continue gaining both inventory and advertiser market share as we drive value for our clients.