Thought you heard your Google Home serve an advertisement on Thursday? You’re definitely not alone. Multiple owners of the home-based digital assistant experienced what appeared to be an audio ad while Google says it was a misunderstood experiment meant to serve useful information.
A valuable feature on Google Home is My Day, and it’s enjoyed by many users. My Day considers everything connected to your Google account and returns a summary for the day ahead. So you can hear the weather, schedule items, reminders, news, and more in one stream of audio. It’s essentially your daily agenda being shared aloud.
Google tried something interesting earlier today. It inserted an audio ad for Disney’s Beauty and The Beast into My Day after users’ personal agendas were finished being laid out.
— brysonmeunier (@brysonmeunier) March 16, 2017
If you’re not someone who’s ever searched for the film, it’s a little odd that Beauty and The Best would even come up. Google’s algorithm across all platforms is pretty solid at recommending relevant topics for its users; however, this completely misses and thus feels like a paid ad. But Google denies that Disney paid anything for the film to get mentioned on devices.
Google provided The Verge with the following 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 the new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.”
If it is planning on rolling out audio ads, Google should expect sales of Google Home to take a hit. People are purchasing digital assistants with the expectation that their companion is going to be free of paid clutter which isn’t wanted or concerning them. When you ask your digital assistant a question, it shouldn’t return results that are unrelated and only appear because a company paid to be placed there.
So let’s hope Google is telling the truth and that an audio ad did not appear on Google Home today. We’ll take their word for it and accept the audio as a bungled test.