Earlier this month, Sharethrough announced its European expansion, and it jumpstarted those efforts by acquiring London-based competitor VAN. Now it looks like Sharethrough will also be getting help from one of the region’s big media companies — British Sky Broadcasting.
Specifically, Sharethrough is announcing a $5 million strategic investment from BSkyB. Existing investors FLOODGATE, Elevation Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, and Silver Creek Ventures, also invested in the new round, bringing the total to $10 million.
Dan Greenberg, Sharethrough’s founder and CEO, told me that the native ad company didn’t need the money. After all, it raised a $17 million round earlier this year ($7 million in equity and $10 million in debt), and he said that Sharethrough has been profitable for the past 12 months.
At the same time, Greenberg said BSkyB’s digital team has been working with Sharethrough and “essentially betting that the future of monetization strongly includes native,” so the investment made sense as a way to “cement our partnership.” As part of the deal, Jamie West, Deputy Managing Director of Sky Media (the company’s ad sales division), will become a board observer at Sharethrough.
In addition to funding European growth, Greenberg said the new round will go towards expanding Sharethrough’s engineering and marketing teams. Asked if partnering this closely with one big media company might make it difficult to work with BSkyB’s competitors, he responded, “I thought about it, but I think that they have such a strong presence in London and such a well-respected brand out there — it’s not a question of competitiveness.”
Greenberg also pointed to the range of publishers that Sharethrough already works with — it powers in-stream advertising for Men’s Health, Gannett, Forbes, Time Inc., Business Insider, and others. As native advertising (where the ads resemble the content of the site where they’re running) has become the dominant monetization strategy among “all the closed platforms” like Facebook and Twitter, he argued that Sharethrough has become the native platform “for the rest of the web.”