Lijit Proves Search Company Really Means Ad Company – Takes $6 Million Series D

Colorado startup Lijit is best known for providing websites with really good search. And it does search well – sites from Fred Wilson’s blog to ICanHasCheezburger use it.

But Lijit is really an advertising network. Publishers that use Lijit also get access to lots of stats about what’s going on with site searches. And they have an option to join the Lijit ad network to put display ads up on their sites – not just on search results – targeted via that data. So far, so good. Lijit doesn’t take inventory unless they can get the publisher a minimum $1 CPM, and 30% of their 700 million page views on publisher sites serve Lijit ads. They say that will grow to 1 billion page views by end of September this year.

Gross revenue, mostly from those display ads, is on target to hit $4 million – $5 million this year, CEO Todd Vernon told me earlier today. And most of their display ad publishers have joined Lijit in the last 90 days. Last year, revenue was near $0.

Vernon says that the company is able to get premium advertising rates for publishers by combining that search intent data with demographic and content targeting, and that they work very well with mid and long tail publishers who aren’t yet big enough to hire their own sales force.

All that growth and potential means Ligit gets a new round of funding. Existing investors Foundry Group, Boulder Ventures and High Country Venture have put another $6 million into the company, bringing the total to $18.3 million to date.

If revenue trajectories continue the company will get to profitability by the time they’ve spent this round, says Vernon.