Native advertising is what Facebook is doing when it shows sponsored posts, or what Twitter is doing with promoted tweets. It’s commercial content created by users that’s shown in the regular, normal stream of the site.

More traditional publishers, however, have not been able to jump on the native ads bandwagon, in spite of clear benefits to both advertisers and publishers. That’s why ShareThrough created its new Sponsored Videos service, says chief executive Dan Greenberg.

“This is the first native video product built for the rest of the web,” he told me. “We know [native video ads are] performing well on Facebook, Youtube, Tumble, and Spotify … but this is the first time it’s available for the rest of the web.”

The new product, already on pace for $40 million in revenue this year despite just coming out of beta, consists of video content created by agencies, distributed by ShareThrough’s platform, and displayed on publishers’ sites.

Above: Sample content distributed via ShareThrough

Image Credit: ShareThrough

The video ad units, Greenberg says, need to be both visually integrated into the site, and integrated into the publisher’s user experience. Publishers can control the types of content that appear on their sites, and advertisers can control the context: the type of publisher, audience, gender, and kinds of surrounding content.

Launch partners include Forbes and, which will be using Sponsored Videos on all its millions of blogs, and the results have been impressive so far, according to Greenberg, who pointed out that ShareThrough videos are driving brand memorability 18 times better than traditional video ads.

“We work with Nielsen and they do third-party research. The performance from native video out-performs anything else they’re seeing.”

One question:

If the video ad units are created by ad agencies, in what sense are they native? The tone and topics are definitely native, but the authors are not exactly users.

Still native ads is a young category, and definitions are still evolving.

photo credit: budcaddell via photopin cc