When Facebook first acquired the virtual reality startup Oculus VR in 2014, people started wondering: why was the social media giant willing to invest $2 billion on the gaming-oriented technology when they themselves don’t have a gaming division? Are they planning to go into VR Advertising?
Fast forward a couple of years and people are no longer wondering. It’s not a secret that Facebook is now a fierce competitor of Google when it comes to digital advertising, and their support for the VR platform points towards plans to start their own Virtual Reality Ad Platform.
360 Ads: the Precursor to VR Ads
This is not entirely without precedent. Even before the Oculus Rift headsets found its way to retail, Facebook was already selling 360-degree video advertising space on their newsfeed. This isn’t exactly virtual reality and does not require the Oculus headset to work, but VR ads could work under the same principle. The 360 ads are great testing grounds for future VR campaigns.
The 360 ads were embraced by various big name brands, including Disney, Nestle, and Samsung. Recent examples of VR campaigns from Coca Cola and HBO shows that they will not be able to pass up on the opportunity to sign up for Facebook’s VR ads when it comes.
Other Forms of VR Advertising
It’s not all about 360 VR ads, however. In an interview with Bloomberg Business Week in July 2016, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted awareness of the fact that entertainment will always be the “gateway drug for VR.” So it stands to reason that VR advertisements will also be made with an eye towards integration with various entertainment-related content, such as games and movies.
Finally, one should also remember that Facebook is a social media platform first and foremost, and Zuckerberg wants to adopt VR for socialization purposes. They’ve already connected billions of people all over the world, and with VR they can connect them in more active and immersive way. This is a prime market for native advertisements, and the company that spent billions on VR tech wants to be one of the pioneers.
At the moment, Facebook has already established a VR team that will handle every VR-related aspect of the business. The team is said to be focused on building social apps for the VR platform, and with competitors like Samsung and HTC already hard at work at their respective platforms, we can expect Facebook’s efforts to ratchet up. In this case, advertisers can expect some fresh new tech to play around with, and a whole new generation of captive audiences on a young platform.