Since the day we started the company, we’ve had a singular mission: to move the advertising paradigm away from obnoxious ads, and to a world where brands distribute meaningful content.
How? By building software that enables publishers to monetize their sites with natively-integrated, premium brand content, beyond standard ads.
To date, most of our customers have known us as primarily a platform for video distribution, a solution to get brand video content seen and shared. While this is still true, the past year has been transformative for the company, and I’m incredibly excited to share what we’ve been working on.
First off, we’re happy to announce a new round of financing today — a combination of credit and equity financing totaling $17M, on top of the $11M we’ve raised to date. This round includes contributions from Elevation Partners, Silver Creek, North Bridge and Floodgate. We’re lucky to have investors who share a vision for advertising on the modern internet.
Over the past few years, two major, parallel forces have emerged: (1) a movement towards brands producing meaningful video and editorial content, and (2) a paradigm shift to mobile-first, feed-based web design for modern content publishers.
With those forces in mind, in 2013 we expanded our capabilities to support all forms of brand content beyond video, and we transformed our technology platform into a truly modern ad exchange.
I’m proud to say that Sharethrough now powers the largest in-feed ad exchange — a software platform that programmatically connects brand video and editorial content with in-feed, native ads on premium publisher sites.
The Sharethrough Exchange (STX) is the first of its kind, and unique in a number of ways.
1. Much larger than you might expect. Our in-feed advertising software already reaches over 200M unique people, across hundreds of premium publishers like People, Forbes, USA Today Sports, Mediate, Politico, and Saveur. Major brand advertisers like Pepsi, Intel, Jim Beam, and Nestle use Sharethrough to distribute content, and a number of our customers are spending $1M+ through the platform.
Why is this significant? In-feed advertising is the primary ad model for every single major closed platform (Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, etc). The size and growth of the Sharethrough Exchange signals that in-feed, native advertising can and will scale to the rest of the web. Native ads in the feeds of closed platforms are already a multi-billion dollar market, and we anticipate that this year we’ll see a diverse ecosystem emerge to power in-feed advertising on the open web.
2. Transformative for mobile in particular. Publishers using STX monetize their mobile inventory at rates often 2-3x higher than a standard banner ad exchange, and brand advertisers using STX to distribute content see engagement rates that can sometimes be at parity with the engagement rates on the surrounding editorial content.
Now that nearly every major publisher site is “mobile optimized,” we’re seeing that mobile web design is influencing desktop web design for content publishers. From Mashable to the New York Times to USA Today, sites on the modern internet are driven by clean, fast, infinite scrolling feeds — feeds that nearly scream “please don’t put banner ads on top of me!” By building a mobile-first in-feed ad exchange, we hope to help accelerate this trend.
3. The first exchange built uniquely for content marketers. Brands are creating more content than ever, but most existing advertising products are built for ads, not content. Sharethrough has been built from the ground up for content marketers, and STX already supports a variety of content formats, including editorial content, blog posts, photos, and various video formats like YouTube and Vine.
4. 100% native. Whereas existing ad exchanges have been built to serve static banners or videos into fixed positions, Sharethrough’s exchange automatically adapts a brand’s content to the native form and function of each individual site into which it is served. 100% of the ads served through STX are native.
In 2014, we are investing in a few strategic areas — bringing Sharethrough’s software to every modern publisher; doubling down on mobile; introducing unique algorithms to the exchange that continue to reward quality content; and of course, hiring across the board.
As the modern internet has emerged, it’s become clear that we’re at the center of a fundamental reshaping of monetization and advertising. Personally, I couldn’t be more optimistic about what’s ahead.
Dan Greenberg, Founder & CEO