Facebook is the first company to beam ads into a VR platform, but it won't be the last. Apple is working on something similar and other will soon jump on the bandwagon. In a blog post Facebook announced, "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."
Anticipating consumer mistrust of and opposition to ads arriving in a paid-for, privately-owned VR game playing on a paid-for, privately-owned VR headset ,Facebook says it "has no plans" to beam advertising according to the tracking of movement or voice command data and will not change the ways in which it collects, manipulates and analyses player information. But, as we all know all too well, plans can change and they often do.
The company also says users will be able to block specific posts or companies from appearing in ad slots. However, the system will exploit information from an individual's Facebook profile and also data related to "whether you’ve viewed content, installed, activated, or subscribed to a Oculus app, added an app to your cart or wish list, if you’ve initiated checkout or purchased an app on the Oculus platform, and lastly, whether you’ve viewed, hovered, saved, or clicked on an ad within a third-party app."
Facebook also says. "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." Even when you are running away from a virtual assassin or blowing up enemy fortifications there will be no escape from the ad man and his relentless determination to sell you something else you probably neither need nor want.
Facebook's department of weasel words id clever at disguising what is really going on. Thus there are 'currently' no plans to use VR tracking data, (images, height, weight, gender etc.) or to "set physical boundaries" in the serving of ads, but the intent is for the advertising to be "high-quality and relevant". In other words data from other sources, such as buying history and app usage will be applied and added to the ever-growing mass of an data collected via an individual's Facebook account.
Also, and as usual, Facebook is happy always to tell consumers about exactly what data it isn't using for ads but is incredibly reluctant explicitly to tell them what it is using. What should happen is that any in-game advertising should only be placed in free applications where the trade-off between access and ads are well understood by consumers. Also, advertising should never be there by default in a paid-for game. And last, but by no means least, users should have the legal right to turn off ads, permanently.