Media Mavens 2010

Media Mavens: Dan Greenberg, Sharethrough

Bay Area CEO Introduces Savvy Way to Corner Social-Video-Campaign Market and Slays Competition

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Dan Greenberg
Dan Greenberg

SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Dan Greenberg, the 25-year-old CEO of video-distribution company Sharethrough and a Stanford grad-school dropout, is smarter than many in the online video space. He's figured out how to take the seemingly unquantifiable "happy accident" of viral video and turn it into an algorithm. That means he can make it happen again and again and again.

Granted, the Bay Area native was a teaching assistant for the first "Facebook Class" at the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, so he's also eons ahead of most people when it comes to melding technology, math and science with virality and video. Top investors such as Floodgate and Ron Conway put their money where Mr. Greenberg's numbers are, and since 2007, Sharethrough has been headquartered in downtown San Francisco.

The most successful viral-video campaign in recent history is the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" YouTube commercial, having just passed 20 million views -- that's just on the official Old Spice channel and doesn't include reposts on other channels and video sites. Now that the commercial is a proven win, the demand from brand managers for this kind of campaign will be astronomical. But how can anyone be sure that their commercial will be seen as many times as the one from Old Spice?

"Historically, you create a viral video or a viral brand campaign by crossing your fingers and hoping for the best," said Mr. Greenberg. "And that's not scalable. By introducing technology to traditional online paid media, Sharethrough is building a repeatable advertising product for branded video content that doesn't rely on happy accidents."

What Mr. Greenberg means is that, while happy accidents are great, brand managers can't rely on them to make their clients happy. "We make it so that the shared video experience for a successful and viral campaign is predictable and guaranteed," he said.

Sharethrough has run more than 200 social-video campaigns for brands such as General Motors, Victoria's Secret, Xbox, Nestlé and Sony Pictures. Mr. Greenberg is proud to have his company's videos often featured on Ad Age's weekly Viral Video Chart, which celebrates the most popular and successful brand video campaigns. Essentially, Sharethrough is a platform that automates video syndication across a network of partners.

"The future of advertising is social, and sharing is the key to success," Mr. Greenberg said. "We are making this a reality by optimizing for 'share-through' rates, not just clickthrough."

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