Google has been pitching companies to create videos for a new "How To" feature for its smart assistant. It plans to show the feature at its annual conference for software developers in May, according to a person who's seen the pitch.
The "how to" skill would provide videos with step-by-step instructions when a user asks how to do something. For example, Johnson and Johnson could create a video about how to bathe a baby, or Kraft could make a video with a recipe for cheese fondue.
A person with knowledge of the matter said that Google is not launching any advertising or monetization related initiatives at its conference. Even so, the feature hints at how Google could eventually make money from its smart assistant and Google Home smart speaker, which go up against Amazon's Alexa and Echo.
As more people start using these voice-powered smart assistants, tech companies and advertisers alike are looking for ways to monetize the new format. It's especially important for Google parent company Alphabet, which makes nearly 85 percent of its revenue from advertising, and will need new ways to serve ads as people start more of their searches through a smart assistant instead of on a screen.
While surfacing a how-to video from a brand will be free, initially, Google could eventually charge companies for promotion.
The pitch also offers further indication that Google could launch a new version of its Home device with a screen, similar to Amazon's Echo Show. Last fall, TechCrunch reported that Google was working on a tabletop smart screen with access to Assistant, as well as YouTube and Google Photos integration.
The videos could also be played on non-Google devices that use its Assistant. Late last year, Google announced partnerships with Lenovo, LG, and others to create Assistant-powered "smart displays."