More details have emerged about Google’s latest music-related feature in its search engine: ‘Listen Now’ ads that appear when people search for artists. Presented as links within the artist boxout that appears at the side of the search results page, the ads started appearing in the last fortnight according to the Wall Street Journal. And yes, ads: so companies including Spotify, Rhapsody and Beats Music are paying for every click that they attract. How this works with Google Play, which also appears under the ‘Listen Now’ heading, is unclear. Count our eyebrows raised at the WSJ’s screenshot showing Beats Music taking one of the ad placements under The Beatles, but the story also reminds us of Google’s announcement in June that it was providing ‘Listen on your apps’ links for music searches on Android devices in the US (Bulletin, 23-Jun-14). While digital services clearly see value in paying for the new ads, we suspect there’ll be some criticism from industry bodies peeved at Google charging legal services for this while still returning organic results for piracy sites.

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