You're walking down the sidewalk on a bright, sunny day. The birds are chirping, the grass is green, and no one is wearing any pants.
You look up, glancing at the world around you, and see a giant billboard on the side of the road. It's promoting those boots you were looking at just yesterday. The kicker? If you tap the billboard, you'll unlock 10% off if you order them right now.
This is the possibility of a new world being unlocked in 2020. This new world, just officially announced by Facebook this week, is called Facebook Horizon. And it's a fully-immersive, Second Life-meets-The Sims, virtual reality world coming soon to an Oculus headset near you.
Facebook: Trying To Avoid Myspace's Demise?
With increasingly popular apps like Tik Tok, the evolution of what we recently learned of as the "VSCO Girl", and other developments for younger generations coming into play, even us millennials are feeling a little outdated.
Now imagine how Facebook feels — the once-popular hangout destination for young folk to post on each other's walls, poke each other, and stalk creepy high school classmates that has been slowly falling to its demise and becoming known as the place where our grandparents are sending us "grandma memes" (love you, grandma!).
What is an outdated social platform to do?
With the announcement of Facebook Spaces a couple of years back, it almost felt like they were on to something. Almost. But then, as TechCrunch so aptly put it:
"...both [Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms] felt more like lobby waiting rooms with a few social features that were merely meant as a preamble to full-fledged VR games."
That's where Facebook Horizon comes swooping in — allegedly allowing you to fly planes while also drinking coffee through a curly straw.
The Future of Facebook is On The Horizon
As a millennial and avid player of The Sims, I'm excited about Facebook Horizon on a personal level. In fact, I'm genuinely thinking about finally picking up my own Oculus controller.
But beyond just the creative and social potential of Horizon, I'm excited about this as a marketer, as well. Of course, Facebook wouldn't be the Facebook we all know and 'love' today without its ads. So it's only a matter of time before they really start capitalizing upon users' time spent in-game.
Just a few years ago, it would have been insane to think that one day, we'd be scrolling down social media browsers viewing auto-play videos advertising a product we were just thinking about buying a few hours before then. But now, it's part of the norm.
This begs the question: what will be the new norm next year? Five years from now?
I'm envisioning a world full of virtual billboards, seemingly realistic eBooks that you can actually "hold" in your hands (imagine opening & reading an eBook from a "library" of content), and opportunities to chat with your customers "face-to-face", even if they're across the country.
On both a personal level and a professional level, I'm excited to see what potential Facebook Horizon has for the world. With all of the security and privacy challenges Facebook has been facing, however, it will be crucial for them to make sure they get this right.
But we'll definitely be keeping an eye out.
What about you? What are your thoughts about this platform? Potentially too invasive and dystopian — with Black Mirror-like implications? Or a new realm of possibility for creatives and marketers alike?