Lijit Networks, which provides search and analytics engines that benefit both bloggers and their readers, announced today that it has closed a $7.1 million series C funding round. Foundry Group, which was a late investor after Lijit closed its $3.3 million series B round last year, led this round. Existing investors, Boulder Ventures and Colorado Fund 1, managed by High Country Venture, participated in the series C as well.
Todd Vernon, founder and CEO of Lijit, said that the company will use this financing to further enhance its search and analytics offerings as well as launch its search-powered advertising network. The company -- which currently has 22 employees -- hopes to ramp its head count to 40 in 18 months, with a focus on building its engineering, operations, marketing and publisher recruitment teams.
Chris Wand, managing director of Foundry Group, said in a statement that the firm re-invested in Lijit due to the company's rapid growth:
“Publishers leverage Lijit’s services to capture more page views and increase reader engagement. Our investment in Lijit comes on the heels of an impressive growth trajectory in 2008. Over the past six months the company has tripled the reach of its network, doubled its average publisher size, and provided measurable value back to those publishers.”
Lijit differentiates itself as a "social aggregator with intent," giving blog owners a way to provide readers with customized searches, which in turn gives the reader more quality content and helps reduce bounce rates. The entry point for Lijit is a widget the blog owner posts on his or her site, which can be loaded up with the author's social network pages, blog roll and other trusted content. The widget also provides a search box -- but it's not a Google search box or a built-in blog search tool. The important differentiator is that the readers will be able to search all of the author's trusted content.
For example, I am an avid reader of Chris Brogan and I often visit his site to take in his views on social media. Sometimes, however, I want more than just his opinion if I am really researching a topic. Since he is a Lijit user, I can search for a keyword in the Lijit search box, which will give me more content options from his blog, content options from his preferred social networks or content options from his broader trusted network. Now, for me the reader, Brogan's blog has turned from a destination for only his blog content into a go-to resource whenever I want the views of his trusted network. I will have also spent more time on his site.
Return blog visits and reader retention are not the only benefit for blog publishers; the Lijit widget includes an analytics tool that allows authors to view trend reports on what searches are being done on the blog as well as the click-through rates. This helps them better analyze what readers are truly seeking and can potentially help them better tailor their content accordingly, thus growing readership.
"We provide a lot of data on the search," said Micah Baldwin, vice president of business development for Lijit. "We can help publishers learn the behavior of their readers, where they are coming from, and so on. And for readers, they can go to a blog that they trust and find a social stream directly connected to their interests."
For more reading about Lijit and its history view the Techmeme discussion.