May 21, 2014
Google Wants To Retrofit Your Home With Ads
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) advertising can trace its lineage back to the earliest civilizations when Egyptians employed tall stone obelisks to help promote their laws and treaties. Over the years it has been increasingly difficult to escape ads in public – and now tech giant Google could bring them to the home.
In a December letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was disclosed Tuesday, Google said that in the not too distant future it could serve up ads and other "content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities."
So much for hoping to escape advertising in one's home!
This wasn't actually a warning that this is the future of advertising, but rather Google's attempt to justify why it shouldn't be required to disclose revenue generated from mobile devices, which the SEC had reportedly requested. Other tech companies – including Facebook and Twitter – already disclose this information, but Google reportedly argued that it doesn't make sense to report this specific information on mobile revenue as the definition of what is truly mobile could "continue to evolve."
There is some agreement to this argument.
"And to an extent, Google is right," Fast Company reported. "One of the lesser discussed side effects of the so-called 'Internet of Things' is the open-ended possibilities it offers for advertisers. Google's acquisition of Nest Labs, for example, gives it a mainline to the intimate daily schedules and behavioral patterns of its users. If Google sprinkling ads inside your Gmail inbox made you feel squeamish, well...things are only going to get weirder."
Fast Company envisioned a scenario where working late – and thus potentially too tired to cook – could result in getting a prompt to order a pizza!
The fact that Google called out glasses and watches comes as no real surprise as the search giant is invested heavily in wearable technology – most notably its Google Glass Project. But it is also somewhat ominous that in its letter to the FCC Google specifically referenced the thermostats. Google bought Nest Labs, maker of smart thermostat technology earlier year for $3.2 billion.
Could this be a future direction of a connected home?
Apple Insider noted that the mention of a refrigerator could be a signal "that the company may be looking to go well beyond the thermostat in building a connected home with advanced appliances."
Such a connected home, beginning with the Nest thermostats, could then serve up ads on devices where ads might not have been expected.
"That's unlikely to be welcome news for those with, for instance, Nest thermostats on their walls," Slash Gear noted. "Although this isn't necessarily sign of a roadmap for where Google-owned Nest will go, it will undoubtedly reignite concerns about what data Google is getting from the motion-tracking gadget."
However, for its own part, Google has looked to allay any fears.
"We are in contact with the SEC to clarify the language in this 2013 filing, which does not reflect Google's product roadmap," the company told the Wall Street Journal in a prepared statement. "Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans."