Okay Google, thanks for the ad.
Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google has reportedly begun including ads on its home assistant Google Home. According to a Reddit post made by a Google Home user, the device played a promo for the upcoming Walt Disney Company (DIS) movie "Beauty and the Beast" when he asked it for a summary of his day. The user said he had not searched for the movie online. Hence, there was no reason for the device to presume that he was interested in the movie.
In a statement to tech publication The Verge, Google said that the movie insert was not 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," the company wrote. (In other words, this is an ad).
Google's rush to insert promotions into its device highlights the growing stakes to monetize the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. Amazon.com, Inc.'s (AMZN) Alexa, which kick started the smart assistant category, is the front runner and announced its integration with the Amazon shopping app in Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS ecosystem over the weekend. (See also: Alexa, Who Won CES This Year?)
However, Amazon is yet to introduce ads into its stream. Part of the reason for this is that Amazon already has the world's largest e-commerce store to drive sales. A research note published by Neil Doshi from Mizuho Securities last year estimated that the Seattle-based company could earn $7 billion from transactions related to e-commerce on its Echo device by 2020. Amazon has also unveiled integration with major brands to provide their services on the device. For example, customers can reorder coffee from Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) using the Alexa app. When multiplied over an extended period, such transactions could also result in a tidy sum of revenue for Amazon. (See also: How Does Google Home Compare With Amazon's Alexa?)
Apple's Siri has also avoided going down the ad route. Instead, the Cupertino, California-based company is focused on gathering data about users from its assortment of devices that have incorporated Siri into their feature set. The company's iconic iPhones were the first to include the smart assistant into their ecosystem. Subsequently, a variety of Apple devices, from its Mac operating system to its latest AirPods, use Siri for voice commands. It is unclear whether Apple intends to earn revenue directly from the data it collects. Regardless, these devices could help the company ensure more personalization for Apple users. (See also: Does Samsung Need AI Voice-Assistant Technology?)