BlueKai Pulls in $21M Series C Round to Enable Targeted Web Ads

BlueKai, a Bellevue, WA-based Internet data exchange company that connects companies with information on the behavior of their customers, has wrapped up a $21 million Series C funding round, the company announced today.

New investor GGV Capital (formerly Granite Global Ventures) led the round, which also included previous BlueKai investors Battery Ventures and Redpoint Ventures. BlueKai has continued to pick up customers and revenue since its Series B round in December 2008. The newest equity investment will go toward the company’s effort to transform how companies use customer data to tailor their ad campaigns, says CEO Omar Tawakol.

BlueKai enables websites to sell data on consumer demographics or buying behavior to companies that wish to use the information to target their advertising more directly and efficiently. The example Tawakol gives is that airlines looking to market to travelers for a specific destination can use BlueKai to buy data from travel websites on the user traffic surrounding that destination. BlueKai’s data providers include retail, auto, travel, and finance companies, while the data buyers account for 70 percent of the top 30 Internet ad networks and portals, according to its website.

Companies that buy data from BlueKai currently have to buy into a specific data campaign to access the customer information, and build their advertising strategy around it. To expand, BlueKai is looking to automate companies’ connection to data on the BlueKai marketplace, making the creation of banner ads on websites as immediate and targeted to the relevant consumer as the ads that appear on search engine results pages are.

“It’s almost that the banner ecosystem wants to become automated to the same degree that the search engine marketplace is automated,” Tawakol says. “And we’re going to make sure that the data component of that becomes automated.”

BlueKai has now raised about $35 million in venture capital dating back to March 2008. Battery Ventures led a $10.5 million Series B round for BlueKai in December 2008, which also included cash from Redpoint, while Redpoint led a $3.2 million Series A round that closed in March of that year.

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