One of the features of the Google Home smart speaker is the ability to ask the digital personal assistant inside how their schedule for the day looks. From there, Assistant will provide details, including news headlines. But recently some Home owners are noticing a new addition: an advertisement for the upcoming Disney film, Beauty And The Beast.
The ad is being played in the standard Assistant voice, so there’s no real differentiator other than the fact there’s a random tidbit about an upcoming movie being delivered without provocation. Some Reddit users have said they haven’t searched for the movie, so its addition to their “My Day” query is surprising. You can hear the ad in a clip that was added to Twitter by Bryson Meunier below:
— brysonmeunier (@brysonmeunier) March 16, 2017
Assistant tells Meunier (and others) that the movie opens today and then gives a snippet of the plot itself. Assistant then even prompts Meunier to ask more about Belle, which would more than likely give him more information about the film. Meunier doesn’t ask, though, and so Home goes on about the daily prompt, feeding news headlines from NPR.
What’s even more strange about the ad itself is that Home doesn’t work with Fandango or another ticketing service, so Home owners can’t even capitalize on the ad and buy tickets.
When contacted by The Verge, a Google spokesperson said that the ad “isn’t an ad” and that Google “invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales,” which, admittedly, sounds like an invitation for ads.
Google isn’t a stranger to movie advertisements or partnerships. The film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had some strong tie-ins with Google and Google Now, letting people use terms from the movie’s lore to turn the flashlight on on their phone, for instance. Still, users had to activate that type of marketing, while Google Home appears to just be tossing it out there.
The report notes that Google hasn’t made it known whether or not these types of ads-that-aren’t-ads will continue from other brands or pieces of entertainment, or if Home owners will be able to opt out.
What do you think of the idea of Home playing ads?
Update: In a follow-up statement, Google said the ad-that-isn’t-an-ad was meant to just be “timely content,” and that it was simply meant to be a way to “experiment with new ways to surface unique content.” Here’s the full statement:
“This wasn’t intended to be an ad. What’s circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out timely content. We’re continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.”