Facebook is set to test ads in its Oculus virtual reality (VR) headsets. The social media giant said on June 16 that it would launch an in-headset advertising experiment with Blaston, a video game developed by Resolve Games. Ads will also appear on some other apps in the coming weeks. The primary objective, the company said, is to bring more people to VR, advance the consumer experience, and make progress on our long-term augmented reality (AR) initiative. In addition, it said it is also a step towards creating a healthy and “self-sustaining platform” for VR development. Users are not very happy with the move and shared their concerns on Twitter.
Facebook Reality Labs vice president Andrew Bosworth tweeted that Facebook wants to help developers generate revenue and help people find better experiences at better prices. “This is part of how we will create a healthy, self-sustaining platform for all,” Bosworth wrote.
We’re starting a small trial of in-headset ads with some developers in the coming weeks. We want to help developers generate revenue and help people find great experiences at better prices—this is part of how we will build a healthy, self-sustaining platform for all.
— boz (@boztank) June 16, 2021
If you’re worried about what ads you’re going to see, there’s some relief.
Bosworth said in a subsequent tweet that users can manage the ads they want to see, and that “we’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads” from the advertiser.
“Advertising in VR will be different from ads elsewhere and this is a space that will take time and people’s reaction to get it right,” he said.
You can manage which ads you want to see and we are including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads completely from an advertiser. Ads in VR will be different from ads elsewhere and this is a space that will take time and people’s reactions to get right https://t.co/dHOlqHoOVF
— boz (@boztank) June 16, 2021
However, many people weren’t happy with Facebook’s decision to include ads in their VR experience, and some were furious in response to the announcement.
“The only way you can “do it right” is not to put ads in VR. The work done by Facebook over the past 20 years is disgusting and we can’t pretend that you do anything to society with decisions like these. Doing well,” user @boztank tweeted.
The only way you can “fix it” is to not put ads in VR
The work done by Facebook in the last 20 years is condemnable and we cannot pretend that you are doing anything good for the society by such decisions.
– jongold.eth ???????? , , (@jongold) June 16, 2021
Another user @N3X15 tweeted, “I was going to buy an Oculus to test my game on that platform, but all of a sudden I didn’t feel that urge. Thank you for alerting us to your priorities.”
I was going to buy an Oculus to test my game on that platform, but I suddenly didn’t feel that urge anymore. Thank you for alerting us to your priorities.
— Rob Nelson (@N3X15) June 16, 2021
Another user, @disinformatico, said the ad was the last thing he wanted to see in VR. “It’s not the only way to get this right,” wrote the user.
Ads are the last thing I want to see in VR.
The only way to get this right is not to do it.
— Paolo Ativissimo (@disinformatico) June 16, 2021
Here are some more reactions to Facebook’s announcement:
To be fair, it’s easier to manage ads by not buying your product at all.
Thanks for the raise sir!
– Perceable???? (trying to twitter-distance) (@paercebal) June 17, 2021
I want you to really know how much I hate this, fundamentally, and there are no healthy or consumer friendly ads, and they would be a lot more vicious in VR.
— alix (@alixbox1723) June 17, 2021
Will “no ads from anyone at any time” be an option, or will I continue to never buy Oculus?
— kayalai (@kayalai) June 17, 2021
You don’t need time to react, really how anyone would want ads in their VR headset. There’s no way to fix it. Nobody wants this.
— Rigtoofen (@Rigtoofen) June 17, 2021
Allowing users to “manage the ads they want to see” is just another data grab. You are asking the user to further narrow down their time choices so that you may charge more for “curated data”.
— Nicholas Shearer (@bit_by_bit) June 17, 2021
one in blog postWith this, the company addressed some of the privacy concerns raised by users on Twitter. Facebook said adding privacy does not change its privacy or advertising policies. The company said that while the tests are ongoing, Facebook will receive information about how you interacted with the ad – whether you clicked on it or hidden it.
“We don’t use information processed and stored locally on your headset to target ads. Processing and storing on the device means it doesn’t leave your headset or reach Facebook servers, so its Cannot be used for advertising,” it said.
Facebook also said it doesn’t use the content of people’s conversations on apps like Messenger, Parties & Chat or your voice interactions to target ads. This includes any sound or audio that your microphone may select when you use our voice command feature, such as “Hey Facebook, show me who’s online.”