Google has made some changes on its Android assistant app, by including features like an ad display for search. This is the first time that the company is adding ads to the virtual assistant. The tech giant will only display sponsored ads for a few queries, which may ease the concerns of many that the AI platform will become filled with ads.
Based on the query, the assistant will display a response that could have links to different web sources. In some cases, some results will include already existing ads which typically display in the classic search.
The updated app shows search results that look a lot like search results on the browser instead of the original pared down version. It will also have other tools like a metronome music pacer, calculator and bubble level when used on the phone.
Amazon may choose to make money off Alexa with services like voice shopping, but Google is going another direction, wanting to earn off advertising. An essential question that the company must grapple with is how to monetize Google Assistant without alienating consumers who prefer not to listen to audio ads on their phones or on as a smart speaker.
The updated version of the app shows one way for advertising to be incorporated into the service visually. Displaying limited sponsored links that are not intrusive will help the company to make money off the tech while assisting the advertiser in engaging their audience at stages when they might be ready to make a purchase.
Brands like FitStar, Food Network, and Starbucks have shown that the new version can help marketers to expand their software tools to be better able to support their customers within one app. The expanded functionality resembles services on WeChat, the Chinese messaging app working as an OS on Android phones. WeChat will let the user run different tasks like ordering food, paying bills and getting a ride in one platform.
The expansion of Google Assistant’s functionality has meant that rivals like Amazon also expand their offers. Alexa, for example, is stretching beyond the home into wearable earbuds.