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US-based Thai start-up launches a virtual reality ad platform

Aug 09. 2016
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By Asina Pornwasin

The Nat

Silicon Valley’s Social Nation Inc comes out with OmniVirt
A Thai start-up in Silicon Valley, Social Nation Inc, last week officially launched a new product called OmniVirt, a virtual-reality and 360-degree advertising platform, after successfully running an ad-network service called AdsOptimal.
Prachaya Phaisanwipjhatpong, founder and chief executive of Social Nation, said OmniVirt had been developed, run and operated under AdsOptimal before it was spun off as new brand last month.
“We had offered a 360-degree virtual-reality ad service under AdsOptimal for customers in Thailand, brands such as Honda and Hitachi, while publishers such as Sanook and FavStay [began using it] early this year,” Prachaya said.
He said the service had been trialled since September last year to test market feedback before the rebranding as OmniVirt. 
The idea of OmniVirt is to use virtual-reality technology to make advertising more attractive.
“We really believe there will be a lot more virtual-reality ads in the future. We are already a leader in this market. We have competitors who are also start-ups the same as us, but our strength is that we have had the experience of providing AdsOptimal for three years and that we are [knowledgeable] in the ad-tech domain, unlike others who come up with virtual reality without advertising experience,” Prachaya said.
To use the OmniVirt service, customers need to develop virtual-reality ads. The service then makes these adverts visible across online channels, and not only in an application.
“We have set up OmniVirt as a platform to allow brands and publishers to have their virtual-reality ads uploaded on their websites, where they can be shared to other online channels,” Prachaya said.
In the past, virtual-reality ads could only be displayed with applications. But OmniVirt makes them available on websites without the need for any further development by brands and publishers. 
The New York Times has revealed that it is a customer of OmniVirt.
OmniVirt allows audiences to view 360-degree content with just one tap of their fingertip on a smartphone or tablet and on websites with no app installation or VR headset required.
The revenue stream of OmniVirt is pay per serving. The more the ads are played, the more they will be charged.
OmniVirt is a Web-based service designed for auto-upload by users. The service is available around the world, but initially the company is focusing on the United States and Europe as priority markets.
In just one day, a virtual-reality New York Times ad got several million views, Prachaya said. 
“Revenue from OmniVirt is rapidly growing and it is expected to surpass AdsOptimal and account for the majority portion of our revenue by next year. Currently, AdsOptimal has 1 billion impressions per month,” he said.
AdsOptimal is a display-ad network that specialises in mobile formats.
OmniVirt will announce new seed fundraising in the next few months. This round of fundraising is to expand markets in the US and Europe. 
Before establishing his own start-up, Prachaya worked as a software engineer for Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Washington, for almost three years and then as a software engineer at Google in Mountain View, California, for a year and a half.
He gained expertise in virtual reality when he and his “3KC Returns” team of university students developed the “Live Book” project, which won the Microsoft Imagine Cup software-design competition in 2007. Live Book is a language-learning app.

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