Facebook debuts web-based VR experiences within standard News Feed

People can now enter virtual reality through their traditional Facebook News Feeds.

Less than a month after Marketing Land reported that Facebook was testing web-based VR within News Feed posts, on Friday the social network debuted examples of brands that have developed VR apps that people can interact with through Facebook’s standard site and mobile apps. Facebook has labeled these VR-enabled posts as “360 experiences.”

These experiences are built using Facebook’s React VR web development framework, which enables people to use them through a desktop or mobile browser that supports WebVR. However, WebVR support on Facebook remains limited among brands and developers.

“We’ve started testing native React VR integration and experience playback within Facebook News Feed. Although we’re still in the experimentation phase, we’re inspired by the potential to let even more people experience quality VR content — wherever they may be,” according to a post published on Friday to Facebook-owned VR company Oculus’s blog.

Oculus and Facebook’s in-house creative agency, Creative Shop, worked with Sony and digital agency AvatarLabs to create a web-based, interactive VR experience to promote Sony’s new film, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” The film’s VR experience sets people on a scavenger hunt within a virtual treehouse. Similar to viewing a 360-degree video on Facebook, on mobile, people can tap the screen or move their phones to pan around it; on desktop, people need to drag and pan to change their view. But unlike a 360-degree video, people can tap or click on objects within the experience.

While the “Jumanji” game is one of the first examples of web-based VR within Facebook’s News Feed, it isn’t the only one. Earlier this week, British museum The National Gallery posted an interactive virtual tour of a new wing. In addition to admiring VR versions of the wing’s actual artwork, people can tap or click on individual paintings to learn more about them.

By bringing VR within its traditional site and apps, Facebook may be able to expose more people to the fledgling medium and eventually bring them into the full virtual world through Oculus’s VR headsets, such as the $199 Oculus Go that will go on sale next year. And by enabling people to experience VR within Facebook, the company may also be able to entice more brands and others to develop VR experiences. To date, VR has not achieved enough scale for many marketers, leading them to explore how to bring their VR apps to the masses.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles.

He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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