Brad Abrams Google IO Assistant Action Tools

Google Announces New Developer Tools for Google Action Monetization, Discovery and Engagement

Google’s I/O developer conference brought us a number of announcements and none are bigger than the new Google Assistant capabilities to facilitate monetization, discovery, and user engagement. Google Assistant group product manager Brad Abrams took the stage to outline some of the details behind these features. A video capture from Mr. Abrams presentation is included below.

Google Action Monetization with Seamless Digital Subscriptions

Mr. Abrams started off talking about money. He first outlined how subscriptions and digital goods originally purchased in an Android app can be made available through Google Assistant using account linking.

“Take the Economist for example. Because I’m a premium subscriber, I can now enjoy that same content on any Assistant-enabled device.”

The current documentation for Google Assistant only includes this type of monetization that starts first in an Android app. However, a Google spokesperson told Voicebot that subscriptions can also be initiated through the Google Action. This process starts by the developer creating a way for Action users to create accounts using Google Sign-in. There are methods for setting this up with Google only or in conjunction with OAuth. This means Google Assistant now enables Action builders to execute transactions for both physical and digital goods–Amazon only enables the latter for Alexa skills. This provides Google Action developers with a clearer path to monetization.

Facilitating Google Action Discovery

Mr. Abrams then moved on to discussing discovery and engagement. Monetization schemes are certain to fail if Action developers don’t have any users. The first topic he addressed was Google Action Links.

“Once you build an Action for the Assistant, you want to get lots of people to engage with that experience. And for that, I’ve got three things to share. … We are making it even easier for you to promote your Action with something we call Action Links. These are hyperlinks that you can use from anywhere to point directly into your Action.”

This seemingly simple development actually opens up a lot of new opportunities for developers seeking to drive awareness of their Google Action. For example, previously to get someone to “find” your Google Action, you needed to either direct them to the Google Action directory on the web or tell them your Action name and then get them to say your Action invocation to a Google Assistant enabled device. Now you can share a URL on social media, through the web or a text message and it will take you right into the Action on mobile which can then be transferred over to a Google Home if you prefer. The link reduces steps for the user to try the Action and will make it easier to use both social channels and paid advertising to build awareness and trial conversions.

Facilitating Re-engagement with Notifications and Routines

The presentation then turned to methods for driving user re-engagement to ensure they don’t forget about your Action and increase the usage frequency. The two features highlighted were Action Notifications and Action Routines.

“Once you’ve acquired new users, you want to engage them. For this, we have Action Notifications. Once users opt in, Action Notifications gives you a way to connect with them around features and content. These notifications will work on the phone, even if users don’t have your Android app installed. And, now with cross surface notifications coming to the Assistant, you will be able to re-engage with your users on speakers, smart displays and other Assistant-enabled devices.”

This Action Notification implementation leverages Google’s cross platform strengths. You might start using a Google Action on your smart speaker, but notifications can be delivered on that device or on your smartphone. The smartphone notification method is something most users are accustomed to and a surface that is always with a user so they are less likely to miss out if they are not at home. Notifications on smart displays will be yet another way to ensure Action content and updates are visible to existing users. However, there is a difference between prompting a user to re-engage and creating a daily habit. Mr. Abrams added:

“But, to consistency engage with consumers, you need to become part of their daily habits. And for that, the Assistant supports routines. This is the ability to execute multiple actions with a single command for things like waking up in the morning, getting to work or any other daily tasks. And now, with Routine Suggestions, after someone engages with your Action, you can prompt them to add your action to their routine with just a couple of taps.”

This provides another method to facilitate regular user engagement. It is not clear yet how many users will set up routines, but the mere fact that an Action can suggest being added to a routine increases the likelihood of Action Routine usage and the ability of Action developers to successfully transition their users into those routines.

Filling Out the Core Tool Set for Audience Building and Sustainment

Monetization, discovery and retention are the trinity of successful digital audience building and sustainment. Google has now rolled out the most comprehensive set of tools available to voice assistant app developers. This removes many perceived and actual barriers to success and now it is up to Action publishers to build voice experiences that attract users and establish business models that sustain long-term success. Mr. Abrams concluded by looking back at the evolution of the web and how Google is applying what it knows from earlier technology adoption cycles to help developers in the voice era.

“The broader challenge of helping people connect with the right Action is reminiscent of the early days of the web. Over the past twenty years, we’ve built up a lot of experience connecting people with the right information, services and content and we are putting that expertise to work in the Assistant.”

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