Three Big Questions About Facebook’s VR Ads

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Facebook recently launched a limited test of ads within three Oculus Quest apps and will expand the system based on user feedback.

The move is a turning point for Oculus and brings one of Facebook’s most controversial features into a medium that demands both idealism and alertness.

This raises three big questions about Facebook’s future and immersive computing.

First, how deep will Facebook go in linking advertising to hardware sensor data?

Oculus Quest headsets are a gold mine of user information. They capture precise head and hand movements, images of the environment via tracking cameras, and microphone audio for Facebook’s voice command system.

The social media giant says much of this data either never leaves the user’s headset or is completely disconnected from its advertising system, but the deeper Facebook delves into virtual and augmented reality, the more attractive it becomes to use its hardware’s special features for advertising.

Secondly, how will advertising affect VR development?

Some of the top VR titles currently feel like a real console or PC games and are sold at similar prices. In contrast, it remains to be seen which app genres work well with an ad-based model.

Facebook is now exploring new ad formats that are unique to VR. Quest ads are placed based on data from a user’s Facebook profile, and Facebook’s hyper-personalization is one of the most controversial features.

A user can add multiple accounts to a Quest headset, but the feature is experimental and unknown to the majority of Quest users.

Third, in light of VR, how will Facebook and its critics respond to general concerns about “Big Tech”?

Should Facebook ban certain types of ads or ad delivery methods from appearing in headsets? Should consumer advocates focus on how ads work within the largely ignored Oculus platform?

Facebook promises that user feedback will play a central role in VR advertising. As VR becomes more and more part of Facebook’s core business, Quest users and developers will see if the social media giant delivers on that promise.

For more information, read the original story in The Verge.

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