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Vertebrae Raises $10M for VR Ad Backbone

Vertebrae said it received $10 million in funding that will help it build an ad tech platform to support advertising in the virtual reality content programmers are launching.

Its first project is putting a 90-second game-based interactive trailer for Lionsgate’s new version of Blair Witch into Otherworld’s Sisters, the most downloaded horror app.

Vincent Cacace, CEO and founder, says the ad Vertebrae can serve will help pay for expensive VR content. And he expects VR advertising to be a more compelling answer for advertisers.

“That immersive feeling that tricks your brain into thinking you’ve been teleported to another place, I would think that’s a really powerful context for advertisers,” he said. “It’s no longer this 2D window of content, but you’re actually inside the content.”

Programmers like Discovery Communications, Fox Sports and Turner Broadcasting are creating VR experience for viewers. Discovery is creating VR experiences on behalf of advertising clients.

To serve VR, the platform must be more robust because it must service large amounts of data compared to standard banner or video advertising. Vertebrae plans to also be able to provide a broad set of metrics about how users interact with advertising experiences in virtual environment.

“In VR you can measure the entire content experience, where people are looking, how they’re engaging, even the level of engagement,” Cacace said.

Studios like Lionsgate have content that lends itself to VR and the storytelling know-how to create compelling experiences. “We think with VR, all advertisers have that same transformative opportunity. It can really be powerful compared to traditional ads."

"Instead of approaching VR advertising in a traditional manner with 2D ad formats contrived to fit in a 3D medium, Vertebrae has shown tremendous insight into supporting high quality advertising experiences that are tailored specifically to showcase the power of virtual reality,” said Andy Goldstein, CEO at Otherworld. Otherworld, which specializes in the development of virtual worlds for entertainment, music and games, is a Vertebrae client.

Vertebrae is working closely with advertisers, producers and game developers to make new VR inventory accessible and define new creative ad units that will scale across fully interactive VR content as well as 360 video. Vertebrae is also working to establish the first advertising standards for virtual reality and augmented reality.

The money raised in its financing—private money from a fund that doesn’t have a strategic interest in the media business—will go toward building its technical and marketing teams, which already features staffers from Oculus, Google, Activision, Facebook and Twitter, according to the company.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.