Turn nabs $15 million for search-like ad tech

Amid a hot market for ad technologies, the Palo Alto-based company aims to make display ads more measurable and effective.

Stefanie Olsen Staff writer, CNET News
Stefanie Olsen covers technology and science.
Stefanie Olsen

Online publishers are increasingly selling ad space on their sites with the help of third-party advertising networks--a trend that's contributing to the rise of newfangled ad technologies.

One advertising network in that boat is Redwood City-based Turn, which on Thursday, raised $15 million in a Series C round of funding to buoy its growth. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Focus Ventures was the lead investor in the deal, and was joined by Turn's previous investors Norwest Venture Partners, Trident Capital, and Shasta Ventures. The company has raised more than $37 million since it was founded in 2005 by Jim Barnett, the former president of Overture Search, a commercial search company bought in 2002 by Yahoo.

Turn is essentially trying to improve online display advertising with the same principles that have driven the multibillion-dollar Web search ad business, dominated by Google. Those fundamentals are: auction-based pricing and ad targeting to reach the right consumer at the right time. According to Turn, advertisers including CapitalOne, T-Mobile, and Teleflora use the company's Turn Smart Market to buy space on sites like MSN, Fox Interactive Media and CBS, parent company of CNET News.

Ad technologies are a hot commodity for investors, given that most of the Internet's early ad companies (e.g., DoubleClick) are now owned by one of the Web's search giants. Venture capitalists are looking for new ad targeting technologies that can make display ads more measurable and effective, pushing growth in the $21 billion annual online ad market.