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Sharethrough Raises $17 Million More for Native Ads

Elevation, Patrick Keane and other investors bet on a video-centric ad network.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Advertisers like “native ads” — ads that look like “real” content on Web pages — because they seem like a good way to get their messages noticed by Web surfers with banner blindness.

And publishers — even the New York Times — like native ads because they seem like a good way to solve the problem of plummeting prices for conventional Web ads.

But if native ads are really going to be a thing, instead of a novelty, then someone needs to figure out how to scale the ads. That is, they need to create a system that distributes “native” ads all over the Web, instead of having to create new ones for each new site.

Now Sharethrough, one of the many startups that is trying to tackle the problem, has a new slug of cash to work with: The New York-based company has raised $17 million in debt and equity, bringing its total funding to $28 million.

Elevation Partners, Silver Creek and Sharethrough president Patrick Keane kicked in equity, along with existing investors North Bridge Venture Partners and Floodgate. The company says it is also taking a loan, from a lender it hasn’t identified.

Sharethrough says it will put the money into various tech tools and products. But for now, its core business is helping brands place their videos onto websites — and increasingly, mobile sites and apps — by buying inventory from publishers and reselling it to its clients.

That strategy makes sense, because video works well in lots of venues, and if the clips are something people willingly choose to watch, then you can argue that they are “native.”

On the other hand, you can also argue that, for now, at least, Sharethrough is primarily a video ad network. And there are lots of video ad networks already on the market.

Which may be one of the reasons this funding round included debt, which is often — but not always — a sign that money wasn’t as easy to come by as it might have liked (see: Foursquare last year).

In any case, lots of the stuff Sharethrough promotes is fun to look at/click on. Last year, I highlighted a funny/odd Jarritos ad. Here are a few more examples, which you could also watch on Vine and YouTube. Because they are both ads and “real” content:

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