The Google Assistant is reportedly telling a number of Google Home users that the re-imagined Beauty and the Beast movie has opened. This seemingly innocuous fact was revealed when the assistant was asked about the day either on a smartphone or Google Home smart speaker. It looked as though Google experimented with offering an audio advert with the Google Assistant service.
For many users, this was unexpected as they had not searched for information about the new Emma Watson movie. In at least one case, the Google Assistant user had not shown any interest in movie theaters for several months.
Google Assistant’s exact wording on the subject of Beauty and the Beast was: “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 something about Belle.” The statement arrived after the other information on the day such as weather, the commute, appointments in the calendar, important reminders, and news information. It’s not clear the number of Google Assistant users who received the movie information, as some users may have been interested in the new movie and welcomed the information. Others may have not taken it to Reddit to complain.
Google has since pulled the phrasing from the assistant service and made the 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 new ways to surface unique content for users and we could have done better in this case.” The good news here is that the Beauty and the Beast announcement does not appear to be the start of advertising briefs being embedded into the Google Assistant service. Simply put, users do not want adverts included in the assistant service, no matter how it is delivered. However, it’s clear that Google is still experimenting with the Google Assistant in the interests of improving the service for users.
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