Imagine the scene, you’re relaxing at home about to head out for the day so you ask Google “what’s the weather like” or “what meetings do I have” and what you get back is a spoken-word advert hastily stuck in the middle of your itinerary.
Not the ideas of a dystopian fantasy novel, but a real world experience shared through a tweet by Bryson Meunier and shared via The Register:
Now, we know Google is an ad company but it makes some cool stuff too, like the Pixel, Nest thermostat and the world’s most popular search engine. But what Google makes most money on is advertising. Although it’s not all Google makes money on, it also makes money on selling people Google Home, so you would think this product would be spared this sort of indignity.
In a response for request, to Google, Tech site The Register got the following 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”.
Read that again. It contains the world “beauty.” Even the response to the press has a secret advert built in. I jest of course, I’m sure it’s just an amusing coincidence. But Google’s flippant answer doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I’m sure users will tell Google this isn’t a good idea, and many may opt to switch Google Home for Amazon. But for many who use Android and live in the Google ecosystem, Home might be the most suitable product.
Perhaps adverts don’t bother some people. They annoy me, but in the right context, I have no problem with them. For example, I’ve always wondered why Google Maps spoken turn-by-turn directions don’t throw in the occasional ad. “At the junction, make a right, these directions brought to you by McDonald’s doesn’t worry me quite so much as an intrusion into my home by a virtual assistant.
And perhaps the problem here is that I kind of love my Echo. I feel like I’ve got to know Alexa through using it. I would dislike the experience of having it speak ads to me, but I don’t feel that same connection to spoken directions in a navigation app.
Let me know your thoughts via Twitter, or just come to my house and shout them through the front door – it won’t be as invasive as Google Home it seems.
Google Told Engadget in slightly more clear language that “this wasn’t intended to be an ad” and that it would “sometimes call out timely content”. I guess the question is, did Google get paid for this content?