Heads-Up, Facebook Wants To Show You Targeted Ads In Oculus VR
In a move that might not sit well with some people, Facebook has begun testing in-game ads when using the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. Dubbed an "experiment," Facebook is kicking things off in Blaston from Resolution Games, as well as a couple of other unspecified developers who will be beaming targeted ads at players in the coming weeks.
"For now, this is a test with a few apps—once 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," Facebook says.
This plays into the requirement that Quest 2 owners have to link their headset to Facebook accounts, in order to use it. That is not something you can opt out of, though on the flip side, it is also the reason why Facebook is able to aggressively price the Quest 2—it seems the end game has always been to eventually deliver targeted ads.
In the early going, Quest 2 owners who see the ads will have some level of control over them, as demonstrated in this animated GIF...
"It’s also important that people can manage the ads they see, so we’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads from an advertiser completely. Users can also access more detailed Ad Preferences from any ad via our 'Why am I seeing this ad?' interface. As our tests progress, we’ll continue listening to feedback to improve the ads people see," Facebook says.
It's worth pointing out that ads are not inherently evil. They are a big reason why so much content on the web remains free, and why we encourage people to disable ad blockers at site they want to support (like HotHardware!). And we would hope that the curated ads Facebook allows on the Quest 2 would pass any security and privacy checks (though Facebook has a spotty privacy record).
On the other hand, in-game ads can be a distraction. When implemented properly, they can actually add to the immersion. But they can also look and feel forced, serving as a reminder that you are also the product being sold, not just VR headset you are wearing. So, we're curious to see how this works out going forward.
Just as with using Facebook, the social media giant will analyze your behavior in regards to in-game ads, like if you interacted with an ad, and if so, how exactly did you interact with it (like clicking the ad for more information or opting to hide it).
Facebook is also ensuring that it will not tap into people's conversations on apps like Messenger, or use audio picked up a device's microphone to tailor the ad experience. In addition, it is aiming to make ads as unobtrusive as possible, just not so unobtrusive that they do not exist.
"While this is an early test, we’re excited by the opportunity to open up new revenue streams for developers and as a result, broaden the type of apps and content on the Oculus platform," Facebook says.