Google has deleted audio about the movie Beauty and the Beast which played out abrupted on Google Home. After listing the time, travel and weather update the smart speaker said, “By the way, Disney’s live-action movie Beauty and the Beast opens today.” It then discussed the plot and suggested asking it about main character Belle for “more movie fun”, in a video posted on Twitter. Google refused that the material on Home was an advertisement.
It appeared as part of a “My Day” feature where the digital assistant provides an update which can include news bulletins and calendar events. The spokeswoman said, “This wasn’t intended to be an ad.” She further added, “What’s circulating online was a part of our My Day feature, where after providing helpful information about your day, we sometimes call out appropriate content. “We will be continuing to experiment with new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.” The device is not yet made available outside the US.
The tech giant has researched before with including what it calls “seasonal timely content” on the Google Home device without it being requested. The previous material on the themes of the Oscars and Black History Month has also run.
Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight said the rise of digital assistants presents a “tricky conundrum” for advertising sales. He added, “Unlike adverts inserted on a screen which can be glossed over, anything presented in an audio format risks being incredibly intrusive.” “The most probable outcome will be that there would be ad-funded voice assistants where the user gets a discounted device in return for accepting notices.”
He further added that Google faces a distinct dispute to Amazon, which markets rival home assistant the Amazon Echo. “Google’s primary business model is predicated on advertising. When in fact, for Amazon it is about transferable revenue where a voice assistant like Echo can help drive sales”, he said.