LONDON — Google’s UK director of agencies Matt Bush said the company isn’t looking to create an advertising product for its voice-controlled Assistant just yet.
Assistant, which launched last year, lives in Google’s flagship smartphone Pixel and inside the voice-controlled speaker Home, which launched in November last year.
The question of whether Google can bring ads to voice search has been raised several times by analysts in the company’s recent earnings calls. Voice assistants don’t have screens on which to display ads — the lifeblood of Google’s business.
Earlier this month, some users of Google Home noticed what appeared to be audio ads for Disney’s upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” remake. When users asked for an update of their day, they were also served a promotion for the movie. Google said it wasn’t intended to be an ad — simply “timely content” that Disney didn’t pay for.
Bush explained Google isn’t looking to offer brand integrations in voice for the time being, since it didn’t have enough data to come up with an ad product that adds value for consumers.
“We want businesses to have a phenomenal mobile experience and then building on that have a phenomenal voice experience,” Bush told Business Insider at Advertising Week Europe. “That might not be, in the early instances, anything that has to do with commercials at all. It might just be something something that adds value to the consumer without needing to be commercialized.”
Bush explained that the consumer experience with voice is very different from that of text search because the use cases for voice navigation differ depending on the device the function is used on and the context the user finds themselves in.
“We don’t want to start putting in commercial opportunities that we think users don’t want to interact with,” Bush said “We don’t want anything to come in-between the user and their access to the information they’re actually looking for. If a brand can add value in that space, fantastic.”
Bush cited mobile search ads as successful executions of using context and personal user insights, but voice promotions are unlikely to take the same form.
“It’s unlikely to be what you see from search as it currently stands, where you might have three or four ads as the top results of a search,” he said.
Advertising Week Europe this year was dominated with discussions both on and off the stage about the escalating brand boycott of YouTube, with dozens of major brands pulling their spend with the platform after they found their ads appearing next to extremist and hateful content.
Google’s European boss Matt Brittin apologised on stage about the issue on Monday and promised the company was working on changes to tackle the issue. On Tuesday, the company announced a change to its policies, advertiser tools, and a hiring spree in a bid to provide more assurances to advertisers of their brands’ safety on its platforms.
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