Facebook’s Virtual Reality-Style Ads Are Here With Big Brands on Board

Nestlé and AT&T test 360-degree video

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

If you were wondering what Facebook's $2 billion Oculus Rift might mean for advertisers, we may have just been given a sneak peek. Today, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company debuted the first virtual reality-style video ads for AT&T, Nestle, Mondelez and Samsung, among others.

In September, Facebook rolled out a video creation tool that let publishers and brands like Vice and Mountain Dew post 360-degree clips organically to their pages. Now that tool has been wrapped into a new ad format that shows up as sponsored posts in newsfeeds.

The high-definition capabilities are already spurring brands to get a bit more creative with their Facebook ads. For example, Mondelez-owned Ritz's two-minute spot  gives people a 360-degree view of a holiday party. And AT&T used its ad to put viewers behind the wheel of Ben Albano, and up-and-coming race-car driver.

In addition to the new ad format, Facebook's 360-degree videos can also be watched on iOS and Samsung Gear devices. Previously, the clips only worked on desktops and Android-powered phones and tablets.

The development is a small step toward what Facebook likely has in store for Oculus Rift, the the VR headset that is anticipated to become widely available in early 2016.

Facebook has also added a new microsite with information about how VR works as well as editing tools for creators, which should help more brands and publishers post videos to their pages.

The move is the latest example of Facebook's ambitions to turn into a major video player. Just last week, the company revealed that 8 billion videos are viewed every day on Facebook. 

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.