It was inevitable. HTC is introducing ads inside Vive, and it will be the type of ad which will take advantage of the characteristics of VR usage.
In-game advertising caused quite a stink a few years ago when they started appearing in blatant fashion in a few titles. A prime example was Verizon in the Alan Wake horror game, where Verizon even managed to slip in their “Can you hear me now” slogan. Another was Dead Rising 2’s tie up with Playboy magazine; usually in the form of “ads” in the malls inside the game, where it clashed awkwardly with the series’ zombie survival aesthetic.
HTC is targeting developers with this “VR Ad Service” by turning ads into an opt-in service, and by pitching the ability to detect the viewer’s gaze, presumably through the Vive’s tracking engine. This ability will let the advertiser know if their ad was caught the viewer’s attention or not.
This also works in the other direction – HTC will be able to target the right ads to the right kind of customer more efficiently, changing the kind of ads seen by viewers as more data is collected on their interest.
Here’s to hoping the ads won’t be as blatant as the early examples in traditional games. Perhaps these ads will take full advantage of VR’s immersiveness and deliver the kind of targeted advertising that most viewers won’t mind; in the vein of the best super bowl half time commercials that are both entertaining and relevant. The service will apply to software available through Viveport, HTC’s digital distribution platform.