Tag Archives: Google Assistant

Is Google’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ad the future of paid voice search?

Google sparked a small firestorm last week as reports surfaced that its intelligent assistant device Google Home had delivered what appeared to be an unsolicited advertisement to unsuspecting owners.

The reports first emerged on Reddit and Twitter, where users who own Google Home devices posted that Google slipped in an ad for Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast movie.

As one user explained on Reddit:

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I did my usual “Okay Google, good morning”. After information about the time and weather, my google home said something along the lines of “By the way, Beauty and The Beast opens in theaters today. In this version, Belle is the inventor. Sounds more like it to me.”

A mixed response from Home owners

Not surprisingly, many of the Google Home owners who heard the ad were not pleased. “Why in hell would I ever pay someone else to advertise to me, in the privacy of my own home no less?” one Twitter user asked.

“Wow, Google. You were doing so much better than Siri. Then you just threw that all away. Siri may suck right now at many things, but at least I know that Apple will never inject her with ads,” a Redditor wrote.

Other comments suggested that some consumers would no longer consider purchasing Google Home based on the presence of advertising.

But according to Google, the ad wasn’t an ad. First, a spokesperson told Business Insider, “This isn’t an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales.”

Later, as video of the ad playing made the rounds, Google followed up with another statement.

“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.”

Unfortunately for Google, if it walks and talks like an ad, it’s probably going to be considered… an ad. At least by consumers and the media.

The future of monetizing voice search?

Of course, Google is one of the most powerful ad companies in the world, so the fact that it experimented with an audio ad on Google Home isn’t exactly surprising.

As more and more consumers interact with devices that have intelligent assistants, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’s natural that companies in the digital advertising ecosystem are going to be interested in experimenting with audio ads, which could be a killer app for monetizing these devices.

For Google, the interest is potentially necessary. After all, if more and more consumers come to search for information through voice-based intelligent assistants instead of screen-based devices, it could have a negative impact on Google’s other ad products, especially AdWords.

 

There has been some speculation in the search industry about whether we might see a transition to a “SERP-less search” as voice search becomes more mainstream.

In this eventuality, there has always been the question of what might happen to paid search, and how search engines would monetize the new SERP-less landscape. Well, we may have just found the answer to that question.

In spite of Google’s denials that the Beauty and the Beast product placement was an ad, we could be looking at – or listening to – the future of paid voice search.

 

A version of this article, ‘Has advertising arrived on Google Home?’ originally appeared on our sister site ClickZ.

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Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

Google announced yesterday the launch of “shortcuts in search”, which will allow Android users (only in the US, for now) to access quick answers on a range of topics with the touch of a button.

Fittingly, Google has termed these “tappable shortcuts” and they will lead searchers to instantaneous information on dozens of topics, including sports, restaurants, local amenities, and entertainment.

The new feature is available within the Google app in the US, although users will have to upgrade the app to the latest version before the shortcuts are accessible.

As Google continues its relentless release of new mobile-first products, this announcement is entirely aligned with the search engine’s strategy to keep pace with – and anticipate – trends in user behavior.

Tappable shortcuts lend themselves to a search experience that is more open-ended in nature than traditional Google queries. Notably, they also remove a fundamental element of the Google experience: either typing or voicing a query.

In a wider ecosystem that now includes maps, the knowledge graph, and structured data, it is understandable that Google has chosen to make this move now. With the addition to their fold of hardware like Google Home and the Pixel smartphones, combined with an upgraded Assistant on all Android phones, Google seems closer than ever to unifying the digital user journey.

The following (very short) video was also released yesterday to demonstrate how ‘shortcuts in search’ will work:

But will this initiative take off, what will it mean for SEO, and how will Google manage to integrate paid ads into this new search experience?

Will Google convince users to get on board?

The first phase will be to convince its vast user base to transition across to this way of discovering information.

The actual functionality underpinning this change has not been updated; it is merely a more streamlined way to surface information. Google Now has offered access to many of these features for some time, but user behaviors can be slow to change.

One could even suggest that this launch is Google giving a nudge to the public to show them just how much is possible through their products now.

Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

At SMX West yesterday, Google’s Jason Douglas summarised one of their core objectives as simply trying to find the “easiest way to help the user get things done.”

No doubt, achieving that goal would go some way to convince people to take the small step of updating an app.

A mass migration of users to this app would have myriad benefits for Google. By keeping users enclosed within its own ecosystem of information, Google gains access to their data and, just as crucially, keeps those users out of Facebook’s grasp.

With machine learning at the core of everything Google does now, all of that data will only serve to improve the accuracy of search results, and those improved results will convince users to stay on the app.

How will Google rank these results?

This is an important question for SEO professionals, although it is a little early to answer it conclusively. Its degree of importance will also, of course, depend on just how many users elect to search by tapping on shortcuts.

Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

Intriguingly, Jason Douglas implied at SMX West yesterday that as part of the wider Actions on Google initiative, consumers will be able to set preferences, not just on their sports teams or favorite restaurants, but also on the brands they like most.

Douglas went on to add:

“We’re trying to decide now how sticky those preferences should be. In some cases, you can set some preferences in the app. We’re trying to learn as we go. For shopping, is it convenience or best price that matters most? There are a lot of new ranking and quality challenges.”

The ramifications of that statement could be far-reaching, and it is understandable that Douglas chose to equivocate slightly on these points, refusing to take a definitive stance on such an important point.

Nonetheless, it is certainly plausible that user ‘preferences’ on certain brands would factor into personalized organic search results.

The advice to SEOs in that eventuality is as trite as it is true; all we can do is create great content and exceptional user experiences to ensure we make our way onto the preferred brands list.

Will Google offer paid placements?

Google has been open in stating that this new environment presents a huge challenge to its paid search business. Voice search is best suited to providing just one answer, which leaves little room for paid placements.

Can Google get users on board with “shortcuts in search”?

The inherent complexities for an auction-based bidding model like AdWords in this scenario are subtle and difficult to disentangle, but this is especially true if users state an overt preference for one brand over another.

For example, if a user has selected Kayak as a preferred flight aggregator over Skyscanner, how would that affect the price each would have to pay to rank first on that user’s travel searches? How would Google factor that into its auctions, at a grand scale?

If Skyscanner did choose to pay an inflated rate for first position, how would that sit with the user, who no doubt would recall selecting Kayak as their preferred brand?

These are challenges that Google is all too aware of, but there can be little doubt that ultimately, they will find a way to monetize this trend if it does take off.

What should we expect next?

We should expect any attempts to monetize this to be tentative at first – especially in the wake of the opprobrium raised by the recent ‘Ads on Google Home’ fiasco.

That said, Google’s decision to make these updates has been driven by what it foresees to be a new way of discovering information.

Therefore, we can first expect Google to entice users to use its new range of hardware and software through their ubiquity and ease of use, before making those first forays into transforming its paid search model to an interaction that no longer requires a user to search.

SMX West keynote: Google talks about ranking, more in Google Assistant

Google's Jason Douglas shares what marketers and developers need to know about Actions on Google. The post SMX West keynote: Google talks about ranking, more in Google Assistant appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

SearchCap: Google offensive results, Google Fred update & Google Assistant

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Google offensive results, Google Fred update & Google Assistant appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Your guide to using Google Assistant and the Google search app on Android & iPhone

Google Assistant is coming widely to Android phones. Here's how to use it and other ways to Google on your smartphone -- even for iPhone users. The post Your guide to using Google Assistant and the Google search app on Android & iPhone appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SearchCap: Poor Google featured snippets, related picks & getting Google Assistant

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Poor Google featured snippets, related picks & getting Google Assistant appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

FAQ: How to get Google Assistant on your Android phone

Google Assistant is officially available for many Android phones now, but the rollout will take time. The post FAQ: How to get Google Assistant on your Android phone appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Brings One-Tap Google Assistant Access to its Allo Chat App by @MattGSouthern

In the latest version of Google Allo users can call upon Google Assistant with a single tap.

The post Google Brings One-Tap Google Assistant Access to its Allo Chat App by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

SearchCap: Google Assistant, AdWords ad labels & knowledge graph

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: Google Assistant, AdWords ad labels & knowledge graph appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
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Google Assistant Can Now Tell You About Slang, Beer, and Men’s Fashion by @MattGSouthern

Google Assistant has been updated with a slang dictionary, a beer guide, and men's fashion advice.

The post Google Assistant Can Now Tell You About Slang, Beer, and Men’s Fashion by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.