Google Home is playing audio ads for Beauty and the Beast

Today some Google Home owners reported hearing something extra when they asked for a summary of the day ahead from the smart speaker: an advertisement for the opening of Beauty and the Beast. Several users on Reddit have noticed the audio ad and Bryson Meunier posted a clip to Twitter. Some Android users also reported hearing the ad through Google Assistant on mobile.

The ad was delivered using the regular Google Assistant voice, so it blended in seamlessly with the other My Day information (weather, calendar appointments, etc.) — but some people still weren’t happy about it. “‘My Day’ configurations are weather, commute, calendar, reminders, and news, and I definitely haven't searched for the film either,” one Redditor wrote.

“By the way, Disney’s live action Beauty and The Beast opens today,” the Assistant says, after covering the usual time, weather, and commute routine. “In this version of the story, Belle is the inventor instead of Maurice. That rings truer if you ask me. For some more movie fun, ask me something about Belle.” Meunier didn’t respond, so Home simply said “Have a good one” and moved on to the day’s news headlines from NPR. Google Home doesn’t yet work with Fandango, so it’s not like users could even take advantage of the ad and quickly reserve tickets at a local theater. The company has since stopped serving the Beauty and the Beast content to users.

When contacted by The Verge for more information, Google denied that the audio snippet was actually an ad, initially providing this rather strange statement: “This isn't an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.” That appeared to describe... an advertisement. Using Beauty and the Beast references. Later on Thursday, Google sent a follow-up statement with a more thorough explanation:

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.

So Google’s statement suggests that this isn’t the beginning of paid placement in Home’s daily briefings that some users were concerned about. But as the company quickly learned, spouting off audio even resembling ads can quickly turn off customers. Plus, it extends what’s supposed to be a brief preview of your day.

Update March 16th 2017 6:00PM: The story has been updated with a second statement provided by Google.

Comments

I think people forget that Google is in the advertising business.

They will probably try and argue that the money paid for a Google Home is for the cost of the device itself, whereas the actual service is free, the cost of which is covered via advertising.

Either way, this is a pretty poor way to treat your customers. Reminds me of Microsoft pushing ads on licensed Windows 10 installations.

The problem is google didn’t tell me before i bought it that I would have ads. I wouldn’t have bought it if I had known.

The only reason I use the Home over echo is because i can get whole house music across multiple Home devices. But even then I have problems. Music just stops a few songs in mid song, and other times I get: Sorry something went wrong, try again later. Not really happy tbh.

Yes but its not a ad in all aspects of the device. Maybe this is the way they invision app makers making money on this thing.

We don’t know anything at the moment. Other than it appears Google has the ability and desire to at least some of the time insert ads. What if they decide to do it before every song you play? Or before the answer to every query? Or before and after? Obv I don’t think it’ll be that extreme… But until Google clarifies if and when ads will be played, how to opt out, and how it intends to compensate those that bought a "no mention of ads" device that now has ads, I won’t be recommending it to anyone I know.

Yes, it is an ad. It focused on promoting a single movie, not all movies currently showing or all new releases, and I very much doubt that Google ran it as a gift to Disney (Verge, it would have been nice to find out Disney’s statement on it. Just sayin’.) If this is how they envision apps functioning on it, then they shouldn’t be forcing a Disney ad app on the device. The user should get to choose anything beyond the defaults.

lol, how stupid are you. It’s Google.

And just like that Google Home was dead.

So young, and already jumping sharks.

Yet another reason why the Echo is better in my opinion, Amazon will only advertise their own stuff, which you are using anyway, so it’s all good.

You realize that Amazon is a marketplace that sells other company’s stuff, right?

"That’s hilarious!" -Alexa

…"I’ll just quietly use the data I obtain to advertise to you elsewhere" – Alexa

I definitely prefer the Amazon model for ad revenue.

For example, Google could just run a promo where you get a discount on tickets if you order them through Google Home.

Yea, that’s not what I want.

Welp, I’m definitely, definitely not buying a Google Home until they both clarify how a person gets unsolicited info (i.e., ads) and how a person can opt out.

Here’s my predictions about how your question will eventually get answered:

they both clarify how a person gets unsolicited info (i.e., ads)

You’ll get them the same way you get ads in other Google services

and how a person can opt out.

You can’t

A personal assistant that throws in adverts…

"google now how long will it take to drive to the hospital? my wife is in labour"

"The it will take 20mins to drive to the nearest hospital in current traffic….did you know the latest range of baby clothes are now out in Gap And you can get family health insurance from…"

"Google shut the F up!"

Google is an advertising company

Seriously, this immediately cancels my plans to get one.

It’s a Google product/service, honestly what did you expect? This reminds me of when Google first bought Nest – back then everyone was worried that Nest would give up data for Google to sell. Tony Fadell said that would never happen. A few months later, "discounts" on home insurance were being provided if you connected your insurance with your Nest account.

Audio is one dimensional, you can’t put ads on it and look away like you can with graphics.

There should at least be a way to disable specific sources like you can on Google Now’s feed.

Needless to say this has completely killed all interest in the product until Google responds.

Sci-fi dystopia comes at you fast

Google at work trying to fuck up yet another service. Did they really think this would work out well for them?
I would be ok with this kind of ad if it was opt in and I would get paid to listen to it.
My deal with Google is that they get my data and I get their service.

So it was not an ad, its still bad news for google if their personal assistant recommends the same movie to every person on the planet. Machine learning my ass. Not good advertisement for their targeting ads platform. I have carefully tailored my news feed just to get a random movie recommendation from another country slapped in there. At least they more or less admit the failure.

This is very creepy.

GHome: "Bob, you just did a big one and I heard you cuss when the roll ended too soon, oh, and my roll holder sensors detected a premature EORS* too. Worse, your household inventory shows zero remaining. Would you like me to drone you an emergency 2 pack?"
Bob: "Uhm, ok, Yes."
GHome; "That’s great Bob! Leave the window of your bathroom open, and we’ll dangle one outside the window within 20 minutes. Please pull your pants up, we don’t want shock Mrs Higgenbottom across the road, she has a weak heart based on our last delivery to her. That will be $4.00 with an express delivery fee of $1.00. Can you confirm this order?"
Bob: "Yes please."
Ghome: "Oh Bob, to help you pass the time, if you have your phone or a tablet with you, would you like a complimentary game to play while you wait. Angry Turds is great fun!"

*End Of Roll Situation

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