Google Assistant on Google Home is a bit different than the version found on phones, and the latest demonstration of that dichotomy hit the web yesterday, when users started reporting that they were being subjected to audio advertisements for the new Beauty and the Beast movie starring Emma Watson. Plugs for the newly released film seemed to come at complete random, according to users who are reporting them, and sometimes even appear to users who have shown Google no reason to assume that they would be interested in going to see the movie. Users are reporting hearing the ad most often, which comes as Google Home letting them know that the movie is out and asking if they would like to go and see it, when they use the "good morning" command, which gives them a quick summary of info that will help them go about their day.
The Reddit thread where one report came in includes users saying that they are getting other ads, as well. These ads are mostly related to things in their local area or things they've shown interest in, such as local pizza recommendations in one user's case. Many of the advertisements seemed random in most cases, rather than the usual targeted fare that Google is known to serve up, though Google's usual advertising was on board for many users.
Google has built their fortune over the years primarily through advertising revenue, so a move like this may seem perfectly logical on the surface, but it has actually managed to ignite a fierce debate between users as to the nature of Google Home as a product and whether it's right for users to be served ads on the platform. While some argue that they've paid for the hardware under the assumption that it would include the service that powers the device's primary function. Others, meanwhile, argued that paying for the hardware did not constitute paying for the service, much like buying a smartphone. Given the nature of the ads at hand, however, it could be argued that they are simply attempts to make Assistant more conversational. Having said all that, Google also made a statement shortly after the reports started coming in that the ad wasn't actually intended to be an ad, and was actually coming through the speaker because of the "My Day" feature.