Travel Ad Platform Sojern Flies High With $120 Million In Fresh Funding

Sojern is hopping a flight to funding town.

The 10-year-old travel-focused ad tech company announced a monster $120 million financing round, technically a Series D, on Tuesday led by TCV partners, a growth equity firm that has also invested in Airbnb, Expedia, ExactTarget, AppNexus and Netflix.

This is Sojern’s first raise since its $10 million Series C in 2013. Total funding to date is now $162.5 million.

A portion of Sojern’s new round will go toward entering new markets in Latin America and APAC and toward staffing the new offices with sales, marketing and account management people.

Sojern is also planning to beef up its engineering and data science teams. Most of the new technical hires will be based at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, although Sojern is also hiring engineers for its new office in Dublin and in Istanbul, home base of Adphorous, the Facebook marketing company Sojern acquired around this time last year.

In terms of future acquisitions, Sojern is staying fluid.

“There’s no imminent acquisition on the horizon,” said Stephen Taylor, Sojern’s SVP and managing director. “But with this growth money, we’ve got the confidence to push hard and look at other areas, like Facebook, where we want to be strong, where our clients are demanding something and we don’t have it.”

But why raise now and why so much? The opportunity in the travel market has never been riper. Marketers are finding it more difficult than ever to keep track of the traveler’s increasingly complex path to purchase, Taylor said.

Sojern, whose clients include Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Hyatt and Samsonite, claims to collect and process travel and booking-related data for between 300-400 million unique users in real time that flows in from online travel agencies, meta search engines, airlines, hotel properties, transportation companies and tourism operators.

From there, Sojern creates audiences for programmatic ad buying, which clients can either access on a self-serve basis through their DSP or as a managed service, if they’d rather Sojern take care of the buying.

“You can be one of the world’s most famous hotel brands, but you’re also probably in the position where at least 50-60% of what you sell is through booking.com or Expedia,” Taylor said. “There’s a growing fragmentation of complex channels, so how do you reach all of your valuable travel customers?”

Sojern, which has 13 offices and around 500 employees, is on track to expand its headcount by 130 people this year. The company says it recently completed its thirteenth straight quarter of profitability.

 

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