Google warns ads may come to Nest, Google Glass, and more

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Google has warned federal regulators that it could eventually place ads on a number of devices where you might not expect them—such as the Nest thermostats and even self-driving cars.

The disclosures emerged in a letter sent by Google to the Securities and Exchange Commission last Dec. 20, but was disclosed this week. In the same letter, Google also disclosed that it could spend up to $30 billion buying overseas companies to add to its technology and product portfolio.

In its letter, Google noted how the definition of "mobile," and especially mobile advertising, has dramatically broadened in recent months.

"We expect the definition of 'mobile' to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market," Google wrote, as originally noted by the Wall Street Journal. "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."

in car ads gallery

Is this the future?

"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," Google added.

The company's so-called Enhanced Campaigns aren't written with specific devices in mind, but designed to write one ad campaign, "which we serve dynamically to the right user at the right time on whatever device makes the most sense. Because users will increasingly view ads and make purchase decisions on and across multiple devices, our view of revenue is similarly device-agnostic," the company said.

Naturally, the product categories that Google suggested aren't entirely theoretical. Google bought smart thermostat company Nest for $3.2 billion in January 2013, and continues to push its Google Glass smart eyewear out to "normal people." Meanwhile, its self-driving cars roll forward. Google has yet to announce its own smartwatch, although numerous other Android-powered wearable makers have. 

Google said that with Nest, however, it doesn't plan to add ads. "We are in contact with the SEC to clarify the language in this 2013 filing, which does not reflect Google's product roadmap," a company spokesman said in a statement. "Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans."

Nest also confirmed it would not use ads, either. "

“Nest is being run independently from the rest of Google, with a separate management team, brand and culture," chief executive Tony Fadell  said in a statement. "For example, Nest has a paid-for business model, while Google has generally had an ads-supported business model. We have nothing against ads - after all Nest does lots of advertising. We just don’t think ads are right for the Nest user experience.”

While it's important to note that none of these Google-powered products have ads on them yet, it's entirely probable that they'll arrive one day. As Google's earnings continue to note, Google is an ad-driven company. And while Google may charge $1,500 for a pair of Google Glass, expect that price to eventually decrease. Rest assured, however, that the company will make up the difference.

Updated on May 23 with a statement from Google and Nest.

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