Facebook has made no secret of the fact that ads are coming to its Oculus VR platform in some capacity. As a part of its v29 software update for Oculus Quest last month, the company said it would begin testing ads for content within the Oculus App, although it wasn’t clear to what extent it would touch games. Now Facebook says it’s beginning to experiment with ads in paid games too, with popular 1v1 shooter Blaston (2020) from Resolution Games and “a couple other developers” signing onto a beta to test in-game ads.
The company says the advertisements, which are being pitched as a way for developers to generate more revenue from their apps, will begin showing up in select Oculus platform games and experiences over the coming weeks.
At least based on the only image provided, it appears the in-game ad beta will allow developers to insert dynamic billboards directly into game environments.
“For now, this is a test with a few apps,” the company says in an Oculus blogpost. “[O]nce we see how this test goes and incorporate feedback from developers and the community, we’ll provide more details on when ads may become more broadly available across the Oculus Platform and in the Oculus mobile app, as well as guidance for businesses and developers interested in advertising on Oculus.”
At least on the face of things, it seems Facebook is primarily going to rely on user web traffic and content interests to drive targeted ads; the company says it won’t use locally stored info like raw images from the sensors on Quest, images of your hands, or your weight, height, or gender. In-app messaging from Facebook Messenger, Parties, and chats aren’t up for grabs either, which includes microphone audio.
There will be a way to hide specific ads too, or hide ads from a certain advertiser completely, Facebook says. You’ll also be able to turn off ad impressions based on your web traffic outside of VR. That won’t change the number of ads coming your way though, the company says, just their degree of relevancy to the user.
The company says it’s focusing on inobtrusive methods to let developers insert ads whilst exploring “new ad formats that are unique to VR” in the future. What that means exactly, we can’t say for sure. One thing is clear however: the more detailed biometric data headsets include—like eye-tracking, optical face tracking, and integrated wearables—the closer any company can get to building a much more clear picture of its users’ interests, attitudes, and spending habits. We’re not there yet, but we may be witnessing Facebook take the first steps in that direction.
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Check out our article on How to Change Quest 2 Privacy Settings and See Your VR Data Collected by Facebook to learn more about what’s being collected, and how it’s being used.