fantasy founder - what if your eyeballs make you (not google) money?

Kicking off an occasional series (like fantasy vc) about products or companies that I’d like to build or see built someday.


Two thoughts:

  • Thought One (from fantasy vc - cumulus)— Either you disrupt by doing something new. Or you disrupt by changing the supply chain, removing middlemen, disintermediation (or consolidation of intermediaries unto yourself?).
  • Thought Two (from facebook, instagram, snapchat and you the product)— The cost of everything Facebook does to create and run Facebook is the cost of acquiring the product—your attention. Facebook sells your attention to advertisers.

Here’s the idea:

  • If your attention is the product being sold by some third party to the highest bidding advertiser, why aren’t you getting the proceeds from that sale? 
  • What if you had a way to sell your units of attention directly to the advertiser and get paid? 
  • And what if nothing about how you use the web changed? 
  • Except that now you get a check in the mail or money deposited in your bank account every month.

So, how might this work? An easy (in the sense that we’re not inventing anything new) approach: use ad block technology to strip out everyone else’s ads and insert ours. Have a plugin for each major browser. Create (or jack into an existing) an ad network to source the ads. And give users (for example) 65-75% of the transaction, claiming the rest as a transaction fee to run the business.

The point would be to give you most of the profit being made off your attention.

It should be profitable. But mainly, I’d like to see if  something sustainable can survive that puts a noticeable dent in advetising-driven business models. 

Why? Because I don’t care to have my attention sold. Because it’s grossly inefficient to pay for, say Google searches, by maybe being made more likely to buy some product part of the profit for which turns into the operating cost of some company that in turn spends that money on advertising on the web. There are tons of middlemen in that chain taking their cut of the money I could just pay Google for the damn search capability without fueling the consumerism, growthism, more-ism that prevails.


P.S. Prior art: AttentionTrust