Google Home Beauty and the Beast reminder sparks accusations of an ad invasion

Beauty of the Beast promoted by Google Home

Smart home device Google Home has come under scrutiny in the media for seemingly promoting Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.

Footage spread on Twitter (featured below) of the home assistant mentioning the movie’s release today (17 March) in its summary of users’ daily calendar.

The news sparked fears that could could leverage the Home’s position in the centre of the home to deliver paid-for promotions, with the original commenter, Redditor CaptainCaptioni stating the following:

"This morning while I was getting ready for work, I did my usual ‘Okay Google, good morning’. After information about the time and weather, my google home said something along the lines of: ‘By the way, Beauty and The Beast opens in theaters today. In this version, Belle is the inventor instead of Maurice. That rings truer if you ask me. For some more movie fun, ask me something about Belle.'

“I'm not a fan of ads on this device. I don't believe I've done any searching for the film either, so I think it's not due to perceived interest. Has anyone else heard similar ads?

A Twitter video also shows this below.

The Verge reports that some people using Google Assistant on smartphone also heard the ad, however, Google has denied that the placements were ads.

“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.”

Nevertheless, as the likes of Google and Amazon, to mention a few, look to integrate more services with this home assistants, there will be a vast increase in commercial opportunities for brands around voice – this will likely not be the last time an experiment miffs consumers.

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