Promos for Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast flick, released in American cinemas today, are being mixed into Google Home’s responses to questions. In a test with a Home owned by a Reg writer, the chatbot device started touting the kids movie in between telling the time and news headlines. This is with the default configuration: no opt-ins or opt-outs.
Google’s official response to this is absolutely pants-on-head mad:This isn’t an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.
I don’t care how much storytelling tinsel an advertisement happens to be wrapped in — an ad is an ad.
I looked through Google’s support documentation for Home and even downloaded the app looking for anything that would specifically state that the device could be used for advertising. Nothing on the Google Home website implies that ads would start running on the device.
Update (2017-03-20): Nick Heer:
Disney may not have paid Google to tell Home users about their new movie, but that’s what it felt like to a lot of people.
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