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Google Calls Google Assistant Audio Ad Not An Ad, Users Outraged

Google Home.Frederik Hermann/Flickr

Google built its entire empire on advertising revenue, which effectively makes it an ad company. By expanding to other areas such as self-driving cars, mobile phones, and the Google Assistant feature, it’s become easy to forget the company’s true nature. Users of Google’s smart assistant product were given a rude awakening to this fact when an audio ad played on the Google Home’s speakers last week. The company denied that this was an ad, but decided to pull the content anyway.

The incident occurred on Thursday last week when scores of the $130 device started playing what appeared to be an audio commercial related to Disney’s newest foray into the live-action fairy tale market, Beauty and the Beast. It played for only about 15 seconds, but it was jarring enough to remind users what Google actually is, Engadget reports.

For those who don’t own a Google Home, the device and accompanying smart assistant are usually used for updating users with pertinent information. It provides relevant details like the weather, the traffic flow, and even current events. If the users decide to ask about upcoming movie details, the service would oblige. It’s not supposed to simply offer this information out of hand.

Google made the situation even worse for itself by the haphazard and almost insulting response that it gave. Its statement basically said that what played wasn’t an ad, even though it certainly sounded like one.

“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,” Google’s statement reads. “The beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.”

Similar events did occur in the past, but many of them had to do with general concepts like the celebration of Black History month, Inquisitr reports. This time, it’s clearly an out-and-out ad, which ruffled more than a few feathers.

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