- Facebook plans to target Oculus users with ads based on their activity on the virtual reality (VR) platform. The ad targeting only affects people who log into Oculus with their Facebook account, per a blog post that also announced new VR social networking features.
- Facebook also will gather information about Oculus activity, including which VR apps people use, to provide social features and to recommend VR content. The personalized suggestions may include Oculus Events that users can attend in a computer-generated environment or ads for VR apps in the Oculus Store, per its blog post.
- The changes don't affect third-party apps and games, or the VR headset's on-device data. Oculus's new social networking features for Facebook users include chats, user-created events, content sharing and parties that others can attend in a computer-generated environment, per the Oculus blog.
Oculus's new social networking features for Facebook users could help mobile marketers to improve their ad targeting on both platforms, which can share data to create more complete user profiles. Because VR environments are entirely computer-generated, every user action can be tracked and recorded to provide more details about real-time consumer behavior. Marketers can harness the information to hyper-personalize ads and measure the response to their campaigns.
Privacy advocates may cringe at the idea that Oculus and Facebook are sharing more user data, but Oculus users can still use the platform without logging into Facebook. Those users will miss out on Oculus's new social features, but they can still use VR apps and attend virtual events without sharing the data with Facebook. As long as users are given some measure of control over how their data are collected and used, they may be comfortable with the company's data-sharing practices.
The disclosures about data-sharing come several months after Facebook was fined $5 billion as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which had accused the company of violating of a 2012 order by deceiving users about their ability to control the privacy of their personal information. Facebook also agreed to obey new restrictions and modify its corporate structure to be more accountable for decisions about user privacy.
Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, but the VR platform has never generated much buzz. However, the company continues to experiment and incubate new tools via its secretive New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team. The NPE Team is reportedly working on a range of apps and software for travel, podcasts, enterprises and newsletter tools.