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Vertical Travel Ad Network CEO Cree Lawson (Part 6)

Posted on Sunday, Feb 3rd 2008

SM: What stage are you at now? Revenue? Profitability? Traffic? Customers?
Users? Advertisers? Any other metrics you track?

CL: We ran the company at break-even for the first three years. We didn’t have a choice. All the profits went right back into the company (and a few to American Express and Mastercard).

Now that we have some funding, we are hell-bent on pursuing the opportunity in front of us. We’ve sacrificed a few hundred thousand in profits last year, but January revenues this year are four times what they were last year and the network has nearly doubled in size.

As far as other metrics go, we reach about 10 million unique users right now. We look at that. We look at the CPMs we charge and they’ve been holding steady despite bringing in much more inventory. We have just under 200 million ad impressions/month from 10 million unique users in the US.

We take on all of our publishers’ inventory. Our sell through rates vary seasonally, but we generally fill 55%-80% of inventory. About 15% is international, so adjusted for that we sell out nearly all US inventory.

CPMs range from $7 for run of network, to $10 for site-specific, to $15 for premium site, to $40 for front page integrated.

Our top advertisers are American Express, Vacations to Go, Best Western, Netherlands Tourism, Tourism Australia, etc. Publishers like Lonely Planet and Rand McNally are some of our top revenue-generating properties.

We sell all our inventory direct through our own sales force, which just crossed over to the double-digits.

We’ve had revenues from day one, and we can regain profitability as soon as we scale back the growth but right now there’s just too big an opportunity before us. Renewals and retention are also metrics that we track. Nothing is more expensive for a business on a personal and financial level than client and customer churn. Failure to renew with advertisers that give you reasonable terms kills reputation and morale. Renewals are twice where they were last year. Publisher retention remains above 95% despite a few of our publishers (like Lonely Planet) being acquired in the past year.

SM: Fantastic execution!

This segment is part 6 in the series : Vertical Travel Ad Network CEO Cree Lawson
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