Intelligence of Things

Google Home Activated By Burger King Ad

Well, that didn’t take very long.

In a recent TV spot, Burger King played on the growing number of Google Home smart speakers in American living rooms.

In the ad, an actor dressed as a Burger King employee addresses the viewer, saying, “You’re watching a 15-second Burger King ad, which is unfortunately not enough time to explain all the fresh ingredients in the Whopper sandwich.”

Don’t worry. Burger King found a way around that.

The actor leans in toward the camera and addresses Google Home directly: “Okay, Google. What is the Whopper burger?”

We don’t mean a Google Home in the commercial. We mean Google Homes in actual homes. Prompted by its wake words, users’ Google Homes will search then list the ingredients — at least, if the device is close enough to the TV, or the viewer has a Google Home at all.

For users who have the device, this will mark the first time in history marketers have purposefully leveraged Google Home in a campaign (though in a roundabout way).

That was the hope, at least.

In this case, Google itself had nothing to do with the ad, Burger King’s President José Cil told The New York Times. Rather than wait for monetization proper on Google’s smart speaker, Burger King chose instead to go with the “dollhouse method.”

But within hours of the ad's debut, Google reportedly put a stop to the fast food chain's smart speaker play. Google Home no longer responds to the ad's prompt, though users can still access information on Whoppers when they themselves request it.

The Verge noted that Google likely disabled the Burger King trigger using an actual sound clip from the ad.

Before the ad was shut down, pranksters edited the Whopper's Wikipedia entry, meaning that a few unlucky Google Home owners got a nasty surprise. A few notable edits to the Whopper's list of ingredients  include 'toenail clippings' and 'rat'. Yikes.

Wikipedia since locked the entry for editing.

Google Home's lack of ads isn’t for lack of anticipation. This is the second time the internet got riled up over potential ways ads could use in Google Home.

Last month, users thought Google Home had started playing ads after the smart speaker told users that the “Beauty and the Beast” reboot was soon coming to theaters.

While the feature was actually part of the “My Day” feature, Google said, the event garnered a lot of excitement from Wall Street and other industry players. Advertising on smart speakers, Google- or Amazon-made, could result in a new revenue and profit stream.

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