Update: Engadget reports that the Beauty and the Beast ad has now been removed from Google Assistant and Home. A spokesperson for the company also now claims this message “wasn’t intended to be an ad”, stating that it was simply trying to “call out timely content”. However, the spokesperson did admit that “we could have done better in this case”. We would bet that this kind of in-your-face advertising won’t be popping up in the future, but Google does say it will continue “to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users”.
Original story: If you own a Google Home connected speaker and ask it today to recite your regular daily briefing, you may get a bit of a surprise. In between letting you know your schedule of events and the weather forecast, the voice for Google Home will also throw in a “by the way” reminder that today is the opening day in theaters for Disney’s latest movie, the live-action Beauty and the Beast.
You can check out a demo of this in action below:
Google isn’t just pushing out these ads to Google Home speakers. According to multiple reports, the Beauty and the Beast ads are popping up on Google Assistant-enabled smartphones, too. After telling you a bit about the new movie, Assistant then says you can have some “more movie fun” with its own trivia game.
It’s pretty obvious that Disney paid a lot of money to Google to thrown in that voice ad in Home and Assistant, and it’s the first time such an “feature” has presented itself in this way via the company’s digital AI. There’s no word yet on if this ad is a one-off, or if this is just the beginning of regular voice ads that will be delivered by Assistant.
The Verge reached out to Google for more information, but oddly enough, the company denied that the audio clip was an advertisement. Google said:
This isn’t an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.
Weird. That sure sounds like an advertisement to us.
We would hope that owners of Google Home, who have already paid quite a bit of money to use the connected speaker, can also be given the option to shut down these rather annoying ads. They certainly didn’t think they would have to deal with these kinds of features. We would also hope the same courtesy will be given to Google Assistant users on smartphones.
Do you think Google is going too far in throwing in voice ads for third-party products with the use of Home and Assistant?