The company has used Oculus data to target ads and on its app, but this is the first time ads will appear within the VR experience. The company will allow users to have some control over the ad experience, and it is stressing its intention to not use people's voice or movement commands as data to deliver ads.
Ads will be targeted based on information from users' Facebook profiles as well as from the company's tracking of content that users are viewing and engaging with. Ads on the Oculus VR platform will open to a launch page in the Oculus browser. It will allow developers to earn more revenue from their apps which in turn will certainly attract more users to Oculus.
The company also said that it is going to be able to target the ad experience to integrate more organically into other platforms such as the Oculus Home. Initially, ads will look like standard boxes inside the game screen, but the company is keeping an "open roadmap" about how the project will evolve in the future. In its blog post, the company said: "We're currently investing in unobtrusive ads as a new way for developers to build businesses - and though we're not quite ready to test them yet, we're also exploring new ad formats that are unique to VR," it says.
It's easy to see why VR could be a powerful medium for advertising given the potential for immersion. However, so far, the early results seem more like web-based or mobile ads rather than truly innovative. In part, it seems an effort to lure developers to its VR platform which the company has struggled with. In a sense, it's a chicken or egg problem as better apps would lure more users which would then attract more developers. Also with advertising, Facebook could sell the hardware at a loss if it was confident that it could make it up on advertising.
Currently, Facebook's Oculus Quest2 is the dominant consumer VR company and one of the cheapest. Facebook has also acquired many of the studios that are creating VR games such as Beat Saber and Population: One. However, the company is gearing up for the launch of Sony's