Testing In-Headset VR Ads

Oculus blog
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16 June 2021
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Last month, we announced that we’re starting to test ads in the Oculus mobile app to give developers a new way to showcase their VR applications. Today, we’re excited to share a look at the next phase of that exploration: a small test of in-headset ads. The experiment will begin with Blaston from Resolution Games and a couple other developers that will be rolling out over the coming weeks.

Our primary focus at Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) is to bring more people into VR, advance the consumer experience, and make progress on our longer-term augmented reality initiatives. We’re also exploring new ways for developers to generate revenue—this is a key part of ensuring we’re creating a self-sustaining platform that can support a variety of business models that unlock new types of content and audiences. It also helps us continue to make innovative AR/VR hardware more accessible to more people.

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. We’re eager to hear what you think, so please feel free to reach out to Oculus Support to share your feedback.

Ads are most effective when they’re high-quality and relevant—because of that, Oculus ads will follow Facebook’s advertising principles, the first of which is “build for people first.” 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.

Privacy Points

As with everything FRL builds, our exploration of brand engagement on Oculus is being guided by our responsible innovation principles to ensure we’re building inclusive, privacy-centric products.

The addition of ads on the Oculus Platform doesn’t change our privacy or advertising policies. While testing ads in Oculus apps, Facebook will get new information like whether you interacted with an ad and if so, how—for example, if you clicked on the ad for more information or if you hid the ad. Outside of that, this test doesn’t change how your Oculus data is processed or how it informs ads. As a reminder, here’s some info on the Oculus data that isn’t used to target ads:

  • We do not use information processed and stored locally on your headset to target ads. Processing and storing information on the device means it doesn’t leave your headset or reach Facebook servers, so it can’t be used for advertising. Examples of data that are processed on device include raw images from the sensors on Quest and images of your hands (if you choose to enable hand tracking), which are both overwritten instantaneously. Examples of data that are stored locally on-device include any weight, height, or gender information that you choose to provide to Oculus Move.

  • We take extra precautions around the use of movement data like minimizing what we need to deliver a safe and immersive VR experience—for example, to keep you safe from bumping into real-world objects and making your avatar duck while playing a game—and we have no plans to use movement data to target ads.

  • Finally, we do not use the content of your conversations with people on apps like Messenger, Parties, and chats or your voice interactions to target ads. This includes any audio your microphone picks up when you use our voice commands feature, like “Hey Facebook, show me who’s online.”

You can visit the Privacy Center at any time to learn more about your Oculus privacy settings and how and where to change them, view your information, download your information, and delete your Oculus data. We’ll continue to provide tools that give our community transparency, choice, and control over how information is used to personalize their experience on Oculus. For information on our current user controls for ads and steps you can take today, click here.

More to Come

This is a new innovation in the advertising industry, and it’s still early days. 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.

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. A more profitable content ecosystem is a critical step on the path to consumer VR becoming truly mainstream. And that’s something we think is worth celebrating.