Facebook to Test Ads in Oculus VR Apps

The company is starting to experiment with the VR title Blaston. Facebook also says it is working on new ad formats unique to virtual reality.

(credit: Facebook)

It had to happen: Facebook is going to test ads in virtual reality.

On Wednesday, the company revealed that it is going to begin experimenting with commercials in Blaston, the Oculus Quest title from Resolve Games. The experiment will also expand to two other unnamed developers in the coming weeks.

Facebook, which develops the Oculus VR headset, described the experiment as “a small test of in-headset ads.” As an example, the company shared a screenshot of how the ads would appear in Blaston. The result is a banner that hangs along a field in the game. The ad itself promotes Jaspers Market, a Facebook project that recommends locally sourced foods.

“For now, it’s just a trial with a few apps—once we see how that test goes and incorporates feedback from developers and the community, we’ll look at the Oculus platform to be more widely available.” Will provide more details in the Oculus mobile app,” the company wrote on the Oculus blog.

During testing, Facebook will also monitor whether users interacted with an ad or hid it from view. However, the company emphasizes that it will not exploit any data stored on Oculus VR headsets or from your virtual conversations to power ad targeting.

Still, because the company is requiring Oculus VR owners to sign in with a Facebook account, the social network can still analyze your personal data to serve targeted ads. “Ads are most effective when they are high-quality and relevant – because of this, Oculus Ads will follow Facebook’s advertising principles, the first of which is ‘build people first,'” it says.

‘Ready Player One’ meets reality?

Oculus Quest

As we all know, ads can be annoying. The online advertising ecosystem also relies on extensive data collection, which can undermine your privacy.

But on the other hand, Facebook points out that the same ecosystem is a useful way to help VR software developers generate revenue. “This is an important part of making sure we are building a self-sustaining platform that can support a variety of business models that unlock new types of content and audiences,” the company adds. “It helps us make innovative AR/VR hardware more accessible to more people.”

The company also notes that users will be able to control the advertising experience on Oculus devices. “We’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads altogether from an advertiser. Users can ask our ‘Why am I seeing this ad?’ You can get more detailed ad preferences from any ad through the interface. As our tests progress, we’ll continue to listen to feedback to improve the ads people see,” Facebook said.


Still, the news may be reminiscent of some science-fiction book and film. ready player one, which revolves around the VR world known as Oasis. In it, the villainous corporation tries to take over the Oasis with the goal of placing advertisements everywhere.

In Facebook’s case, the company is focusing on “unobtrusive ads” for now. But it is “exploring new ad formats that are unique to VR,” suggesting it has even bigger ambitions for the emerging business. “We look forward to hearing what you think, so please feel free to reach out to Oculus Support to share your feedback,” the company says.

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