Google Home users heard an advertisement today along with their daily update; however, Google denies the statement was an ad. The audio clip lasting roughly 15 seconds was removed from Google Home by Thursday afternoon.
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.
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.