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Google to SEC: 'Internet of things' next ad frontier

updated 05:14 pm EDT, Wed May 21, 2014

Refrigerators, thermostats, glasses could see ads served by Google in future

In a 2013 filing uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, Google stated that it could possibly be extending ad service to devices outside of smartphones and computers in the future. The letter, which covered the topic of mobile revenue disclosure, gave a hint that Google may be evolving ads to grow along with the changing definition of mobile devices.

"Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic," said Google in the filing.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that a company that draws more than 90 percent of its revenue from advertising, such as Google, is looking to the future to adapt its model. Given the nature of targeted ads and subsidized devices, the ad market is constantly looking at new ways to reach out to potential customers. Google brings to light how hard it is becoming to classify mobile platforms, going through the change in meaning upon the release of new technologies.

"In a short period of time, the meaning of 'mobile' at Google has shifted dramatically to 'handset' from 'tablet + handset.' We expect the definition of 'mobile' to continue to evolve as more and more 'smart' devices gain traction in the market," said Google. "For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities."

The path that Google specifically mentions in the filing doesn't seem to farfetched, given recent deals and acquisitions and technology initiatives. Google's purchase of Nest and deals with auto manufacturer Audi point to two of the proposed devices that may be classified as "mobile" later on. Android has also made it to watches and refrigerators, thanks to companies like Samsung; and then of course there is the yet to be officially released Google X project, Google Glass.

Google has reached out to both the Wall Street Journal and Venturebeat to clarify that the statement doesn't "reflect Google's product roadmap." The update points specifically to the Nest thermostat, an acquisition by Google after the filing was made, that "does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans." The statement, notably, doesn't close the door on the possibility of ads on the Nest in the future.

By Electronista Staff
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