Google has reached out to brands about creating videos for a new "how to" feature for its voice-enabled Google Assistant, per CNBC. The search giant plans to reveal the feature at its annual conference for software developers next month, a source told the business news channel.
The instructional feature for Assistant would have videos with step-by-step instructions when a user asks how to do something. The marketing opportunity for brands means that companies like Johnson & Johnson could create a parenting video to show how to bathe a baby, or a packaged foods brand like Kraft could demonstrate recipes, per CNBC.
Google won’t emphasize the advertising or monetization possibilities at next month’s conference. The branded how-to videos will be free initially, but Google eventually may charge advertisers for promotions.
Voice-powered smart assistants are growing in popularity as device makers put the software on a wider range of devices, such as phones, speakers and video screens. Tech companies and advertisers are experimenting with ways to make money with the new platforms, which include Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Google depends on advertising for 85% of its revenue, and needs to find ways to monetize Google Assistant, which is available on smartphones and its Google Home devices. Brands already can create free "Actions," or software that gives Google Assistant greater abilities to interact with users. Google’s main advantage is its ability to quickly find useful information, a strength that it seeks to parlay with its smart home devices. Working with brands on how-to videos is another indicator that the company could introduce a smart display similar to Amazon’s Echo Show. Google last fall started development of a smart screen with access to Assistant, YouTube and Google Photos, per TechCrunch.
Amazon can afford to sell its Echo devices at a break-even price or loss because the voice-powered platform is a gateway to its gargantuan e-commerce business. The company this week revealed that it has 100 million paying subscribers to its Prime service, which offers quicker shipping on products, and streaming of music and videos. Having millions of customers that generally pay $99 a year creates a steady cash flow for the company. Meanwhile, Amazon started experimenting with different ad formats, like paid search and other promotional opportunities, earlier this year.