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Google Home is playing audio ads for Beauty and the Beast

Google Home
Source: Google
Google Home

Today some Google Home owners are hearing something extra when they ask for a summary of the day ahead from the smart speaker: an advertisement for the opening of Beauty and the Beast. Several users on Reddit have noticed the audio ad and Bryson Meunier posted a clip to Twitter. Some Android users are also getting the ad through Google Assistant on mobile.

The ad is delivered using the regular Google Assistant voice, so it blends in seamlessly with the other information — but some people still aren't happy about it. It doesn't seem directly targeted based on search interest in the movie. "'My Day' configurations are weather, commute, calendar, reminders, and news, and I definitely haven't searched for the film either,"one Redditor wrote.

"By the way, Disney's live action Beauty and The Beast opens today," the Assistant says, after covering the usual time, weather, and commute routine. "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." Meunier didn't respond, so Home simply said "Have a good one" and moved on to the day's news headlines from NPR. Google Home doesn't yet work with Fandango, so it's not like users can even take advantage of the ad and quickly reserve tickets at a local theater.

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When contacted by The Verge for more information, Google denied that the audio snippet is in fact an ad, providing this rather strange statement: "This isn't an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales." That appears to describe... an advertisement. Using Beauty and the Beast references. But I could be missing something.

I've asked Google whether owners of the $129 speaker can opt out of these "partner" audio inserts. There's plenty of profit to be made on Google's end for this type of placement, and never forget that advertising is how Google makes its money. But spouting off audio ads could quickly turn off customers. Plus, it extends what's supposed to be a brief preview of your day. If you've got Google Home and want to see if you get the ad, say "OK Google, good morning" or "OK Google, what's my day like?"