Last week, a handful of brands reported that Google is pitching them on creating content to answer How-To queries, reputedly for Google Assistant.
According in CNBC, who broke the news after speaking to a source involved in the project, the “how to” skill is aimed at providing step-by-step instructions when a user asks how to do something. For example, a cosmetics brand like La Mer might provide how-to content on how to correctly apply moisturiser, or Hermès on how to tie a scarf, etc.
This is interesting and not altogether unexpected, as it answers the question of how Google is going to monetize Google Assistant.
Currently, when you ask your Google Assistant a How-To question, such as “How to chiffonade herbs” the response you get will be straight from their featured snippet, and is likely to come from an authoritative article on the subject – not a brand.
In future, however, you may get the response from a brand of herb suppliers, a supermarket chain or even kitchen appliance brand.
If this gets taken further out it’ll mean that brands can bid to have their content as Google Assistant’s answer.
This will give paying brands a great deal more visibility with customers. It will also make it harder for smaller brands and those who can’t afford to large bids.
When it come to voice search, the user isn’t presented with multiple results: there is only one that gets read to them. Until now, the featured snippet spot has been ‘up for grabs’ and one didn’t even have to be ranking in the #1 spot to be featured, the only prerequisite was good content.
If Google go ahead with this monetization of Google Assistant it will do away with this model and make it another ‘pay-to-play’ arena. This will be great news for some, but not for others.