Local-Services ads begin appearing in Google Home voice results

Although Google is not yet disclosing the fact that some of the results are actually ads.

The question of how Google Home (and Amazon Echo, and any other voice based service for that matter) will make money from smart speaker and smart display devices has always been a bit open ended question… However, Reuters discovered that Google is serving up Local-Services ads in voice search results for local queries. But, importantly, Google isn’t explicitly confirm that they’re ads.

Local Services ads. The discovery article discusses Google’s relatively new to market ads in Home results in the context of whether Google is effectively disclosing to consumers when ads appear and therefore whether it violates laws and falls into the category of ‘consumer deception’.

For example if you search for “plumber,” Google Home takes you through a short series of questions to confirm York location (and possibly the nature of the job) and then provides a list of results to choose from. Google then offers to call the results in order whilst also sending the list to a user’s email address.


Local Services by Google results sent via email.

Google Guaranteed appears – but there’s no ad label. The graphic shows my results for “plumber.” The results with the green badge (“Google Guaranteed“) are Local Services ads. Businesses cannot get that badge without being a Local Services advertiser, making these results effectively ads.

There is no ad or “sponsored” clarification in the email or in the voice interaction on Google Home. We’re assuming that will probably have to change to meet advertising legislation. When users do the same search online or on a mobile device, similar results appear; however all the Local Services ads are labeled “sponsored.

So what does this actually mean? This is the first piece of evidence that Google clearly intends to monetise Google Home with search advertising. Google will probably have to devise a way to disclose the fact that some of its voice search results are ads. It might be able to do that by saying, “some of these results are from advertisers” or something similar, we will have to wait to see how this pans out.

However, from a marketing perspective, we’re getting our first glimpse of Google’s plan to generate revenue from its growing base of smart speaker users. The issue is less challenging on smart displays, where Google can simply reproduce the “sponsored” label on the screen as it does with conventional mobile or desktop results.

This could well be the start of a new channel in the digital advertiser’s arsenal. Speak with us to discuss the implications and how to get the most from advertising with Google on 01904 217400.