Travel Ad Network (TAN) is the leading vertical ad network focused exclusively on travel. It reaches users across 50 websites including Lonely Planet, Kayak, RandMcNally, Skybus Airlines, Groople, TravelHero, BootsNAll, AreaGuides, HotelsByCity, EuropeForVisitors, AirGorilla, and many others.
Top advertisers with TAN include American Express, Vacations to Go, Best Western, Netherlands Tourism, Tourism Australia, etc.
At a time when text ads were all the rage, it differentiated itself by pioneering graphical advertising that enhanced ad quality and made ads more profitable for publishers as well as advertisers.
In June 2007, Michael Thomas, an online travel investor and entrepreneur, invested around $1.2 million in TAN. It was the first and only time TAN raised any outside money since its inception in 2003.
According to CEO Cree Lawson (Interview with him here), their value proposition to advertisers is “building the best travel audience online” by organizing niche audiences and targeting them with more effective advertising. On the other hand, by bringing in highend advertisers at strong CPM rates, TAN offers value to the publishers.
In November 2007, TAN was selected by the European Travel Commission to represent the inventory on www.visiteurope.com. Apart from exclusively handling the travel content of top three travel guide publishers LonelyPlanet, RoughGuides and DK EyewitnessGuides, TAN became exclusive sales representative for RandMcNally, Kayak for its eNewsletter, and WAYN.com, in 2007.
Today, TAN reaches 10.5 million monthly unique users in the US alone and 15 million worldwide. In February 2008, TAN added Canadian and UK-centric travel sites largely to increase its reach outside the US. In Canada, TAN serves up to 15 million monthly ad impressions and in the UK, delivers 14 million ad impressions.
Jupiter Research reports that total online travel revenue is expected to touch $128 billion by 2011. Forrester expects the market for Graphic advertising to increase to $9.39 billion by 2012 from $3.2 billion in 2007.
For the last 3 years TAN has been running at break-even, but with the funding coming in 2007, it looks to aggressively pursue growth opportunities ahead. That means adding publishers, sales reps, and advertisers. International operations generate double-digit contribution to the total revenue, which, by conservative estimates, is at least $10-15 Million for 2007 (unconfirmed).
For more performance metrics on TAN, see this part of the interview with Cree Lawson.
So, if TAN were to be acquired, the valuation would be at least $50-$75 Million. One interesting line of thought is for TAN to become a part of the roll-up that Kayak has set in motion.
Cree, however, told me emphatically that he doesn’t want to sell anytime soon!
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008