Toronto-based CrowdRiff has raised an $11.6 million Series A round as the visual content marketing company looks to expand the reach of its platform. The round was led by Leaders Fund, with participation from Alpha Capital, Gibraltar & Company, and BDC Capital.
CrowdRiff allows travel and tourism brands to discover visuals that are likely to perform well with website visitors. While the solution sounds simple enough, its internal studies say that a large base of consumers relies on user-generated visual content—which they see as authentic—to make purchasing decisions.
“Visuals are the language of modern-day travelers.”
– Dan Holowack, CEO of CrowdRiff
“A few years ago, user-generated content seemed like it was a temporary marketing solution for brands, but it has evolved and become a core part of brands’ social and website content, and even features prominently on the homepages of large brands,” said Dan Holowack, CrowdRiff’s CEO. “Today, UGC is used in every marketing channel, from visitor guides to digital ads and billboards. One of our customers did this in Times Square!”
If 10 million photos of a destination are posted on social media, it can be difficult to source usable, high-quality photos. Through the platform, brands can retain the rights to use content, and see what types of photos are most effective to have travelers clicking through. The company said it was one the first travel-focused Creative Platform Partners to join the Instagram Partner Program.
“Visuals are the language of modern-day travelers,” said Holowack. “Around the world, it’s visual content that most heavily influences where people choose to travel and how they spend their money while abroad. We’re thrilled to accelerate our innovation and expansion in the travel sector and further enable travel brands and their agencies to effectively use visuals to attract and engage people throughout the travel buyer journey.”
Joelle Maslaton, former Facebook growth lead, recently joined CrowdRiff’s board.
While it initially targeted travel and tourism brands like destination marketing organizations, CrowdRiff will use the funding to move to other markets like airlines, attractions, and museums. For that reason, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are attractive target markets with highly-developed tourism sectors.
The company’s last announced funding round was $2.6 million CAD in March 2016. The company currently has 500 travel and tourism brands in 24 countries using the platform, and said it experienced 700 percent annual recurring revenue growth since 2015 in August 2018. Recently, Joelle Maslaton, former Facebook growth lead and current Gibraltar & Company VP and venture partner, joined its board.
One of its most recent product launches includes its Media Hub, a digital asset manager that enables customers to search, store, share, and collaborate on their visual content, both user-generated and professional.
“We are super impressed with Dan and Abhi’s (Ajgaonkar) vision for the travel industry,” said Gideon Hayden, co-founder and partner at Leaders Fund. “In a short period of time, CrowdRiff sourced content is reaching millions of travelers every month who are at the beginning of their trip discovery process, and is resulting in more travel bookings for its customers. The team has a relentless focus on customer satisfaction and enabling travel brands to tell their stories in a vastly more compelling way. We are excited to support them on this journey.”