Cool or creepy? Meta Quest Pro uses eye-tracking to measure engagement

While not explicitly mentioning virtual ads, new additions to Meta’s privacy policy include an “Eye Tracking Privacy Notice” to help "personalise your experiences and improve Meta Quest". Is this the next level of attention metrics?

Meta has revealed its premium virtual reality headset this month, with more features - and cameras - than ever before.

Unveiled at the recent Meta Connect event, the $1,500 device includes 16 cameras, with some that are aimed at the user. These cameras will allow future metaverse avatars to replicate users' emotions.

However, they also help Meta know which ads the user is looking at in each experience. This advertising engagement signal could become a core part of the company’s Horizon Worlds metaverse.

The next level of ‘attention metrics’?

The company has updated its privacy policy in the wake of the Quest Pro announcement with a section titled “Eye Tracking Privacy Notice”.

The document says that eye-tracking data can be used to “personalise your experience”. While the policy doesn't literally say that data will be used for marketing, the term "personalise your experience" is universally understood as code for serving up targeted ads.

Meta’s Nick Clegg has even confirmed this is what the company has in mind, telling the Financial Times the eye-tracking data will help Meta understand whether people are engaging with ads.

Screenshot of the privacy notice (Source: Meta)

Getting emotional

Digital marketing is all about showing the right ad at the right moment, and eye-tracking data could be used to determine what a user is thinking about buying. For example, by spending a few extra seconds glancing at expensive digital shoes in the metaverse, the advertiser could send the user a coupon code for that virtual (or real) item an hour later.

Going beyond simple focus metrics, eye movements are also a large indicator for emotions. This means advertisers could build campaigns with content specifically designed for people who seem frustrated, or more cheerful ads for people who are in a happy mood.

The current version of Horizon Worlds does not feature ads, with the only monetisation being the ability to sell digital goods.