Monetization is a Key Challenge for Google’s Virtual Assistant, Google Exec Says

Google Assistant currently dominates the AI assistant market due to the widespread popularity of Android

Yoav Stoler 13:0319.02.18
Funneling a large chunk of all online ads, it may seem that Google should be able to fairly easily monetize its voice assistant, Google Assistant. That is not the case. The reason: voice interface offers fewer opportunities in the way of presenting sponsored ads. To tackle the problem Google is now experimenting with different ways to make money off the company’s voice-activated assistant, according to Ido Green, lead developer advocate for the product.


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Plugging ads into the answers supplied by Google Assistant might mislead users, making the assistant less reliable, Mr. Green said in an interview with Calcalist, conducted at a Tel Aviv summit in late January.

Ido Green, lead developer advocate for Google Assistant. Photo: Orel Cohen Ido Green, lead developer advocate for Google Assistant. Photo: Orel Cohen


Currently running on smartphones, PCs, smart screens and TVs, smart speakers and smartwatches, Google Assistant has a big advantage over competitors like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa due to the popularity of Android operated phones. Devices natively running Google Assistant account for 46% of cell-phones running any virtual assistant, and this number is expected to rise to 60% by 2022, according to November report published by Business Insider.


Apple’s Siri, currently accounting for 41% of voice-activated phone assistants, is expected to drop to 17% in the next four years, according to the report.


According to Mr. Green, Google is currently expanding its assistant service to as many languages and locations as possible. Localization is tricky: it requires integration of local businesses and services, on top of the translation.
The service is already fully available in Russia and partially supported in Asia and will soon expand to European markets, according to Mr. Green. 


Google is also eyeing developing countries for the expansion of its virtual assistant but must compensate for weaker internet connections, Mr. Green said. The system must be able to compress large amounts of data quickly and reduce background actions in order to maintain functionality and get the assistant to work efficiently “for anyone, anywhere,” he said.
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