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Google Home is now playing unprompted ads for 'Beauty and the Beast'


Mashable
155 d ago

beauty and the beast disney google home google tech

It's a tale as old as time: You ask your $129 voice-controlled, in-home digital assistant about your day and it answers with an ad for Disney's remake. 

The stuff of fairy tales, right? Well, maybe if you're the manufacturer of and your happily-ever-after consists of anthropomorphized dollar signs. 

"By the way, Disney's live-action opens today," Google Home helpfully told a number of customers today. "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 to tell you something about Belle."

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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 .
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As Google moves toward screen-free computing powered by digital assistants and artificial intelligence, one of the big questions the company faces is how it'll translate its lucrative advertising to those platforms.
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Some users of the new Google Home connected speaker have noticed audio ads for Disney's upcoming "Beauty and the Beast" remake.
Here's a clip of the ad, taken by a Google Home user and posted to Twitter. The ad comes after the user gets an update on his day from the Google Assistant:
Now here's the rub. A Google spokesperson told Business Insider that the ad you just heard isn't an ad.
"This isn't an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales," the spokesperson said in a statement.
We're as confused as you are by that one, and plenty of others online were too.
A few hours after the video began circulating, Google removed the mention of "Beauty and the Beast" from Google Home.
“This wasn’t intended to be an ad," A Google spokesperson told Business Insider. "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."
A source familiar with the partnership has since confirmed to Business insider that Disney did not pay Google for film's mention.
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He also said voice is only "one mode" to control computers and "users will have many different ways by which they interact" with Google products.
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Google says Google Home’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ad is not an ad
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Today when people told the smart speaker “Tell me about my day,” after it rattled off weather, commute times, and calendar events, Google Assistant said, “By the way, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast opens today. 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 to tell you something about Belle.”
In our tests, repeated attempts to find out something about Belle result in error messages.
“This isn’t an ad,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. “The beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.”
Around 3 p.m. Google issued another statement.
“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,” a Google spokesperson said.
A tale as old as time?
The audio message certainly appears to be an advertisement, as Disney, a massive corporation, is in the midst of marketing its Beauty and the Beast remake. That sentiment was shared by many of Google Home’s users on Reddit this morning.
Google Assistant is currently in the midst of its largest expansion since its launch, enabling Google Assistant in Android phones and publishing several new actions on Google Home in recent weeks.
The Disney film ad on the platform today may amount to just a hiccup for users, but perhaps it’s also a sign that Google, primarily an advertising company, may be interested in selling promotions or ads someday on top of its Google Assistant service.
Updated 3:27 p.m.: to include an additional statement from Google and to state that the Beauty and the Beast ad has been removed.
Updated 1:36 p.m.: A person familiar with the matter later said no money was exchanged between Disney and Google for the Beauty and the Beast advertisement.
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ProBeat: Google could have easily avoided the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ brouhaha
Google found itself in hot water yesterday when Google Home’s My Day feature ended its spiel with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which opens in theaters this week. The company dug itself a deeper hole when its first statement began with “ This isn’t an ad .” Users on the ad-supported internet then proceeded to lose it.
Here’s the thing. I believe Google. I believe that the company didn’t intend for this particular snippet to be an ad. I believe Google was experimenting with different options for its My Day feature. It doesn’t surprise me that Disney apparently didn’t pay Google for the experiment. But I also think the purpose of this experiment was to test how ads could work on Google Home.
This could have all been easily avoided. When people told the smart speaker “Tell me about my day,” Google Assistant ended with this:
By the way, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast opens today. 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 to tell you something about Belle.
Instead, the Google Assistant in Google Home should have said something like:
By the way, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opens today. Do you want to hear a list of other films coming to theaters this week?
The message still gets across, but your reaction goes from “Google, why the hell are you telling me about this specific movie in my daily roundup?” to “Oh cool, Google Home can now keep track of movie openings.”
It’s really no surprise that Google is looking for ways to further monetize Google Home. Even though the device can shop for you , it’s never going to replicate what Amazon can do with the Echo. Google’s main business is not shopping, it’s ads .
But Google needs to tread extremely carefully with the Home. Like any new product, the goal should be to figure out potentially useful new features, and monetization will follow.
In fact, I would argue that smart speakers like Google Home deserve special treatment. This is a completely new category, and a very personal one at that. These devices are being placed in the most intimate place: your home.
Hopefully this ordeal will remind Google the seriousness of such an intimately placed product.
Side note: The real winner from all this is Disney — the entire ad-hating internet was reminded of the movie’s opening, rather than just Google Home owners.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.
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