Native Ad Company Sharethrough Raises $17M More

Sharethrough, a startup focused on native advertising, is announcing that it has raised $17 million in its third round of funding.

That breaks down to $7 million in equity and $10 million in debt. New investors in the round include Elevation Partners, Silver Creek, and Patrick Keane (a former Googler who’s also Sharethrough’s president), while existing investors North Bridge Venture Partners and Floodgate also participated.

Founder and CEO Dan Greenberg has been banging the drum for native advertising for a couple of years now, including in TechCrunch guest columns, through a native ad leaderboard, and by organizing related conferences. When Sharethrough raised its $5 million Series B in 2012, it was focused on video ads, but now it has expanded its Sharethrough Advertising Exchange to include multiple formats of branded content.

That approach has apparently paid off, at least in terms of recruiting big-name publishers with broad reach — those publishers include People, Forbes, and Popular Mechanics, and comScore says the Sharethrough network reaches 227 million unique visitors each month, including 119 million on mobile.

Now that everyone seems to be talking about native advertising, I asked the company how its position in the market has changed. Thomas Channick, Sharehtrough’s senior communications manager, told me via email:

I wouldn’t say our position has changed, as we have always been by far and away the largest native ad platform. Also, our in-feed advertising exchange is built for meaningful content, not crappy ads. Brands are creating tons of content that matters (We look to sites like Medium, Upworthy and others as inspiration. They feature content that matters, we believe that STR is best used to promote meaningful brand content.), and we are the exchange that allows for the distribution of that type of content. Like we have said for a while, ads don’t have to suck.

Channick also emphasized that when people are talking about native advertising, they’re often referring to sponsored editorial content, not the in-stream or in-feed ads that Sharethrough focuses on. (I just wrote about Namo Media, another startup focusing on those types of ads.) And he said that the company’s next steps include continued tech development, international expansion, hiring more engineers and salespeople, and “bringing STR software to every modern publisher.”