Chicago entrepreneur brings the future of advertising to life

What if you could sit in a theater and catch a preview of a Broadway show before you ever bought the tickets?

Entrepreneur David Zaretsky imagines a world where you don't just watch advertisements, you interact with them through virtual reality.

"Right now the virtual reality scene is sort of in its infant stage," he told ABC, but "there are new capabilities being developed every day."

Consumers are on board with what many consider an inevitable virtual reality revolution, with $5.1 billion in sales expected in 2016 alone, and advertisers are racing to stay ahead. The biggest challenge they face, according the Zaretsky, is compatibility. With technology accelerating so quickly and so many new devices being introduced, can you create content that works everywhere?

That's what Zaretsky and the team at Snips Media set out to solve. The start-up has created the first responsive 360 virtual reality advertisement network that works across any platform -- social media, web, mobile apps, and more.

"Snips is the first company to crack the code for a universal VR platform," the company explained, "opening up the opportunity for brands to deliver a unified experience to all viewers."

These experiences will not only be 360 degrees, but they'll also be interactive -- and short.

The average consumer has an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, by some measures, so the way we consume content, from advertising or entertainment, is changing.
Zaretsky, who teaches high-performance computing classes at Northwestern and who has co-founded multiple technology startups over his career, wants to stay ahead of these changes. He's constantly dreaming up new ways for brands to reach audiences, from the technology we use every day to whatever comes next.

While Zaretsky believes virtual reality will be a major player in that "whatever comes next" category, Snips Media is also focused on helping brands reach the places where consumers are now: social media, mobile apps and messaging. But most importantly, your best friend's pages.

"The most important influencer out there is the average Joe. When you go on to Facebook or Twitter, the person you're looking to connect with are your immediate friends and your family," he said.

The action of liking or sharing a branded message drives purchase decisions. So, the Snips Media team asked, why not leverage that influence to earn money?

The way Snips works, anyone -- from a YouTube star to a news outlet to an individual -- can share their content with built-in advertising, and the advertisers pay them for that exposure. That's right: You could get paid to post on social media.

"From our perspective, everybody who shares content or talks about a brand is really an influencer," he said. "It doesn't matter if you have 5 followers or 50 million followers. We can work with anybody."

But we need to look beyond the social media of today, Zaretsky said. That's why Snips is designed to work on any platform, and their team is always looking for the next big thing.

"Things happen so quickly," he said, "and you have to adapt."

Snips Media is now partnered with Steelehouse -- a studio crafting interactive and story-driven content through virtual reality. Together, this partnership will deliver precisely-targeted, high impact and fully immersive experiences for brands and their agencies seeking to tap into the combined power of VR and influencer marketing.

Story sponsored by Snips Media.
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