Monthly Archives: August 2016

Virtual Reality Product Placement Advertising Platform

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Virtual Reality

Before we dive into this VR Ad Platform idea, we first need to look at how the digital advertising and website publishing industries currently work. The reason why will be much clearer towards the end of this article, but from a high level, I think VR advertising is going to follow a similar path in many ways to how the digital ad industry evolved… just much faster and with a few big innovations.

Alright, let’s dive in.

There are over 1,000,000,000 websites online now. One billion! People start these websites for a billion different reasons too, but a large percentage take the plunge with the hope of making money. So, how does a website make money?

How websites make money

Since the idea I’m writing about relates to digital advertising, let’s focus in on the Digital Advertising industry as a whole a bit more.

Online advertising is a $75+ billion a year industry in the US and growing fast. It’s projected to be a $100+ billion a year industry by 2019. It’s also, by far, one of the most common ways websites make money. Display & Social advertising account for 50% of that $75 billion. The rest is split up between search (Google AdWords) and email marketing.


Let’s dig into Display and Social ads a bit more and think about it from the perspective of the websites that make money from that ad spend: The “publishers”.

Let’s say you have a website with a decent amount of traffic. Here is how you can get into the advertising business:

Ad platforms

In case you didn’t know it, Google makes a ton of money from AdSense (way more from AdWords, but a lot from AdSense). Any time you browse the web and see pop up ads or ads on the top or right hand side of the page, you can most likely thank Google for that.

Third party ad systems like Google AdSense are actually pretty brilliant, though. For publishers, it alleviates many of the biggest pain points of managing ads being displayed on your website. Think about how big of a pain it would be to find advertisers, negotiate a deal with each them, and then actually run the ad campaigns on your website. Pain. In. The. Butt.

It also solves a lot of pain points for Advertisers as well. By working with a huge third party ad platform, you are able to tap into a network of millions of websites with a few clicks and you don’t need to work out individual ad deals with them.

Companies like Google also make use of machine learning and “big data” to try and automatically improve the performance of your ad campaigns by showing your ads to the right people at the right time.

In the end, publishers and advertisers are happy because this third party system solves a bunch of pain points and offers benefits they couldn’t get otherwise. Win-Win-Win. Pretty Neat!

Virtual Reality Product Placement Advertising Platform

Ok, now that I’ve caught you up to speed on how digital advertising works, let’s start talking about what the future might look like if & when Virtual Reality is ubiquitous.

No Mans Sky

If VR keeps advancing and continuing down the path it is going, it’s pretty safe to say that we will someday have 1,000,000,000+ virtual reality “spaces” and/or “experiences”. Possibly more. To reach those kinds of numbers, we would need to have millions of independent virtual reality creators just like we have for websites. Obviously I could be wrong, but with the way things are trending now, that idea doesn’t seem too outlandish.

If we have millions of independent VR creators, how will they be rewarded for their efforts? My guess is we will see many parallels to our current digital marketing and website ecosystem: Ecommerce, Digital Ads, selling VR experiences, etc. That’s why I covered those details earlier in this article.

Here is where I think VR advertising might be able to “one up” website advertising, though. Imagine being an independent VR creator. You spend countless hours creating this entire world/experience. Now, you need to figure out how to monetize it. How will you do that?

Ecommerce? Maybe. I think it might still be too earlier for that. I’m not sure I want to buy things in a VR experience in the “traditional” way I would online right now. I feel like VR would kind of get in the way vs. being something amazing. That could change quickly as the technology continues to evolve and expand, though.

Ad in Virtual RealityWhat about ads? I think that makes the most sense currently. However, it’s kind of like the early days of managing ads on websites. Right now, you would basically need to code the ad somehow into the VR experience or do some kind of pre-roll or other form of interruption marketing. This is the equivalent of a website “putting ads up and taking them down”.

Here is where I think things could get pretty cool very fast for independent VR creators. Imagine if you could take a snippet of code and drop it into your VR experience and that code used machine learning to start identifying “objects” and “things”. What if that car you coded into your VR experience driving down the road is indeed identified by this 3rd party ad platform as a “car” and then transformed into a yellow and black 2016 Corvette Z06. What if it picked that car because the person interacting in your VR experience just visited Corvette’s website last week?

What if a different person interacting in your VR experience visited the Mercedes website and instead of seeing the Z06, they saw a black Mercedes instead. What if that same thing could happen to the clothes people are wearing in your VR experience? The phones people are holding? The gun they are using in that VR game? The billboard on the side of the road they are driving down? On top of all of that, what if future VR headsets start tracking your eyes and emotional responses to a VR experience… or even the ad that was just displayed?

We would then have dynamically generated virtual reality product placement advertising that could measure the emotional impact an ad had on someone. Woah. Crazy.

I imagine this monetization pain point for publishers will change rather quickly and we will start to see 3rd party VR ad platforms cropping up pretty soon (if they aren’t out there already). It’s still really early on in the history of VR.

So… do have some of the needed skills to make this idea a reality? I’d love to connect with you!

Want to see some of my other ideas? Go here.

My best business ideas

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When I was around 10 years old, I thought I figured out how to make an electric car that could drive forever; a perpetual motion machine! I even drew the design in a notebook to keep track of my inventions. I was going to be rich!

(Not my sketch.)


I lost my notebook, though…

In the past, I used to be very secretive of my ideas. I thought ideas would make you rich. Now I know that ideas aren’t worth crap. It truly is about action. A perfect example of this is my electric car idea sitting in a notebook in a landfill somewhere compared to Elon Musk’s company, Tesla. Ideas vs. Action.

Although… Mr. Musk still hasn’t figured out that perpetual motion part. What a loser. 😉

black-box-header-black@2xThe other day, I stopped into the office of a new Treasure Valley startup called Black Box VR. Ryan Deluca, the founder, happened to be in the office. He gave myself and a friend of mine a quick tour of their office and spent 30 minutes telling us about his vision for the company. It felt like he told us just about every important detail, without reservation. It was inspiring for sure.

Only time will tell how things play out for Black Box VR, but the odds of success are greater because they have a leader that is very vocal about his vision. Why is that important? Being vocal attracts supporters. Being vocal clarifies your vision. Being vocal inspires action. Action creates value. Value creation leads to success.

So, from here on out, I am going to be even more vocal about my ideas. Otherwise, they will never happen. My hope is that these ideas will find their way to the right people to pursue them… even if that means it’s not me.

Below, you will find a list of my ideas. Many of them are on the back burner for now. Some of them have been abandoned forever. As I come up with new ideas or dig deeper into others, I will link out from here to an article with more details.

If you can help make some of these ideas a reality, reach out and let’s chat about it!

Idea list:

  • Online course to help people use digital marketing to validate their startup idea or market their business.
  • Simple data warehousing solution for SAAS companies only. Focus is key here.
  • Upwork (formerly Elance) like platform that connects companies with data to data scientists.
  • Virtual Reality creating platform similar to WordPress.
  • Self-education platform. Think WikiPedia meets college education. Imagine if people all over the world could work together and create course syllabuses using links to free articles, videos, and all of the Udemy or Kahn Academy like sites to create learning “paths”.
  • Mobile app that allows you to record a video of a space, like a local restaurant, and it automatically stitches together a Virtual Reality “space” based on the dimensions and items captured in the video.
  • Guitar string subscription program exactly like DSticks.
  • Fussy Timer – Time out timer for parents and kids that listens for screams or “fussing” and slows the time down or adds more time if the kid keeps fussing. (<- I know, I know. Evil for sure)
  • Scotchbox – Whiskey subscription service that sends cool whisky samples every month.
  • FLines – An app that lets you see what the wait time is at a restaurant and pay someone ahead of you in line to trade spots with you so you can get seated early or get paid to give up your spot.

This is a small fraction of the ideas I have come up with. I’ll keep adding ideas as they come or I remember them.

If any of the ideas above sound exciting to you and you have skills that could help make them a reality, let’s connect!

Ready to work together? Contact