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Google talking with brands about sponsoring "How To" videos in Google Assistant

An anonymous source says that Google is working with brands to create Google Assistant-sponsored videos. Google will launch the program at Google I/O.

Published onApril 19, 2018

Google Assistant
  • Sources indicate that Google will launch Google Assistant-sponsored videos at Google I/O in May.
  • This program would give brands the ability to sponsor their video content within Google Assistant.
  • The source confirms that no money is changing hands, but it’s hard not to see that this will be one of the ways Google monetizes Assistant.

An anonymous source told CNBC that Google plans to debut a sponsored “How To” feature for Google Assistant at the upcoming Google I/O conference. The feature would allow brands to highlight instructional videos that would pop up should a user ask Google Assistant how to do something.

As an example, you could say, “Hey Google, how do I jump start my car?” Normally, doing so would result in articles and videos from all over the web giving you instructions on how to connect jumper cables to your car battery. But, with this new program, asking that question could hypothetically cause a video to pop up from a company like Advance Auto Parts. This would put specific brands front-and-center, solidifying their connection to the task you are trying to complete.

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As of now, the anonymous source confirms that no money is changing hands for this new test program. The program will launch at Google I/O, but won’t roll out to devices until a few months later.

This new program points to two things: we are likely going to see numerous Amazon Echo Show competitors release soon with Google Assistant built-in (possibly even from Google itself), and advertisers paying Google for top Assistant results will most likely be how Google monetizes its virtual assistant.

This new program likely means we're going to see lots of smart speakers with displays and paid Google Assistant search results.

We already saw some Echo Show-like products at CES 2018, like Lenovo’s Google Assistant-powered Smart Display. It’s only a matter of time now before products like that hit the market, which would be incredibly useful for this new “How To” program. With something like Smart Display, you could ask a question, watch a video, and perform a task, without ever having to touch your smartphone.

While Google is not asking for money to highlight videos created by brands for now, advertising is how Google makes 85 percent of its revenue. It’s easy to extrapolate that Google will eventually charge brands for the privilege of showing up first when users ask “How To” related questions. If Google didn’t care about advertising revenue, it could have reached out to the thousands of high-profile YouTube channels that create How To content. But it didn’t; according to the anonymous source, it went straight to brands related to DIY, beauty, and consumer goods.

Google Assistant guide: Make the most of your virtual assistant
Google Assistant stock photo 1

It’s understandable that Google needs to make money, but this new program could also cause some serious conflicts. For example, what if the brand-created video about how to jump-start your car isn’t as good or as helpful as another video made by an indie YouTuber? Google will have to figure out a way to balance quality content with paid content, not unlike how it does with promoted search results that appear at the top of a Google search.

Google I/O is almost three weeks away, so we don’t have long to wait to find out more about this new program. In the meantime, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: Google can use AI to isolate voices in a crowd – with impressive results

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