Three big questions about Facebook’s new VR ads

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Lots of people saw this coming, but what will it look like?

Yesterday, Facebook’s took a leap many people have been predicting for years: it started putting ads inside virtual reality.  The company launched a limited test of advertisements inside three Oculus Quest apps, bringing one of Facebook’s most controversial.

Three big questions about Facebook’s new VR ads

The first question is how deeply Facebook ยูฟ่าเบท will end up linking advertising with hardware sensor data. Even more than smartphones, Oculus Quest headsets are a gold mine of information about you. They capture precise head and hand motion, pictures of your surroundings through tracking cameras, and microphone audio for Facebook’s voice command system.

Future headsets will likely include even more intimate features like eye tracking.

Right now, Facebook says much of this data either never leaves your headset and it says it has “no plans” to do things like target ads based on movement data.

The second question is how ads will affect VR development. Several of the bestselling VR titles right now feel like substantive console or PC games and sell at a similar price.

(Blaston, the first game we know includes ads, is a multiplayer dueling game that you play in short competitive bouts.) Whatever those genres are.

It doesn’t help that Facebook’s first tests look like flat banner ads from a website or freeware game. That said, Facebook is notoriously picky about what goes into the Quest library and there’s no indication that will change soon.

Modern consumer VR headsets have been full of ads since practically the beginning, thanks to promotional tie-ins and sponsorships. Yesterday’s news was just the latest iteration of a long-running trend.

This iteration, though, has a big Facebook-shaped wrinkle. The Quest ads are served based on data from your Facebook profile, and Facebook’s hyper-personalization is one of its most controversial features.