Native Ad Network Sharethrough Lands Veteran Digital Exec Patrick Keane
The last time Patrick Keane went to work for a digital media startup, he took the reins of Associated Content and things went pretty well: He ran the Web-article maker for a little more than a year, and ended up selling it to Yahoo for $90 million.
So keep an eye on Keane’s newest job: He’s going to be president at Sharethrough, a startup that’s trying to let advertisers buy “native ads” at scale on multiple sites.
Native advertising may be the media industry’s most popular buzzword of the moment. In short, it’s an updated version of the old-fashioned advertorials you used to see in magazines and newspapers, or on old-timey radio and TV shows like “Texaco Star Theater”: Content solely underwritten by advertisers that’s supposed to look and act like “real” content. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll share it with your friends.
The model has picked up currency again as advertisers conclude that conventional banner ads and other techniques aren’t registering, and as content-makers try to fight declining ad rates. Two big issues: Most native ads are lousy, and they usually have to be created on a bespoke basis, one website at a time.
Keane, who has also put in time at CBS and Google, says his new company can solve these problems; right now their approach is to function primarily as a video ad network, distributing ad-sponsored clips on lots of different websites.
I’m not sure how they’ll grapple with native ads that aren’t videos, but for now they seem to have some traction. Last year, they sold $18 million worth of ads/content, and are looking to do $40 million this year.
Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg, who started the company when he was at Stanford, will stay on. He has raised $11 million in the last couple years, and has 85 employees in three cities.