Search + social media, the evolving landscape

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 11.31.30 AM.pngYou have undoubtedly heard about Google and Bing announcing partnerships with Twitter/Facebook/et. al. to include real time social media results into their search indexes. However, even if you did hear about it, I think few people have seen what it looks like in Google's environment, so I recorded this short video for the search term "Copenhagen". Have a look. (Bing takes a slightly different, segmented approach.)

Key Takeaways:


  • These results are pulled into the first page of Google, there are substantial reputation issues to consider
  • These updates are not listed like other webpages/fan pages/primary Twitter accounts, they are in a separate area on the page (fairly contained...for now)
  • The searcher will see what is hot at that point in time
  • It seems like this would be very susceptible to fraud and Tweet bombing, would love to get your opinion on that

What does this mean for you and your brand(s)? How are you preparing/sharing and engaging around this? One of the keys to social media gaining the traction it has is its uncanny way of tapping into the power of search and this is taking that to the next level.

Let me know what you think.

[UPDATE 12/11]: It seems that Yahoo has also added in-line Tweets to search results. This model pulls in three recent (not sure the exact algorithm here) Tweets to the bottom of the result page. Screenshot below.

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More on the new Microsoft ad

I posted the new ad from Microsoft last night as soon as it came across my YouTube filter. Like it or not, it's working. I just pulled this chart from Nielsen's BlogPulse site looking at the blog chatter between Microsoft and Apple.

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Note that the only point where Microsoft passes Apple is yesterday's ad release. I think if you are Microsoft looking at the results from an ad that is solely created to create conversations, you have succeeded. How would you try to measure the value of the conversation online? What metrics or formulas have you seen?

The challenge for Microsoft and their agency is how they follow up in act two.

Make sure you weigh in on the ad by voting below:


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Making Microsoft more personal

If you haven't seen the new Microsoft ad staring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, here it is. I think if you were Microsoft and were trying to become more personal and less corporate, this is a good step in that direction.

So, what are your thoughts? Is this a better move to take on Apple and HP head-to-head? Is this too offbeat for you? Does it connect you more with the brand or do you feel the same? Vote below.


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Whiteboard//Session: What is AJAX?

Picture 15.pngNot a day goes by when I don't see complex technical terms thrown around in media press or on blogs. I often wonder if the average marketer knows what half of these terms mean. This new series is aimed at graphically illustrating (this is where the whiteboard comes into play) complex terms in ways that normal, non-geek people can understand.

In this installment, I take a look at AJAX. This is a huge Web2.0 buzzword that you hear all the time, but do you really know what it means? It's actually quite straight forward from a marketing point of view.

AJAX Stands for Asynchronous JAvasript and XML. As a marketer you don't need to know about Javascript, which is a programming language, nor do you really need to know about XML, which is a data storage standard. The Asynchronous part is what is interesting. This allows web pages to behave in a more dynamic, application-like manner. Google's Reader, Mail and Documents all work with AJAX to make them work more fluidly for the end user. Data is transmitted and stored via XML behind the scenes to enable this process to happen.

This is also responsible for the so called "death of the pageview". Pages don't need to reload to get content thereby eliminating impressions. Check out the video for a tutorial on what AJAX is from a 30,000 foot, marketing centric view.


[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

Key takeaways:


  • AJAX allows technology to get out of the way of the end user
  • UX is improved through more dynamic, application-like interfaces
  • This idea is a driver behind Web2.0, but has been around for a while
  • Microsoft has their own version of AJAX called Atlas (same principle behind it)
  • AJAX bridges the design/UI field and the technical/integration field to make the users happier
  • Less pages to load means less impressions hence the death of the pageview
  • Major companies are using AJAX to design more responsive, rich interfaces than is possible in Flash

Is there a term that's confusing you? Do your tech guys like to show you up and you want a little revenge? Email me or leave me a comment with the terms/ideas/buzzwords that you would like to see explained in a future post. Also, let me know if you have ways you think I can improve on this concept.


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Metrics shape our perceived value; why the formula matters

iStock_000003339307XSmall.jpgOkay marketers. Let's say you are prepping to run an ad campaign for a mass, commodity good and you have to rank your ad buys over the top content networks. How would you rank the following and what metrics would you use? Go ahead and try it.


  • AOL
  • Ebay
  • Fox Interactive Media
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • MSN/Windows Live
  • Yahoo

Would you have ranked them by total audience knowing that you could reach a more robust and accurate subset with targeted ads? Or, would you have opted for total page views thinking that the more pages served the more eyeballs will take a look? Better yet, did you opt for the new Nielsen-suggested standard of time on site knowing that time leads to engagement and better eyeballs? You may be surprised at how different these results are.

Nielsen.jpg
Source: Nielsen/NetRatings,
U.S., home and work, May 2007
Take a look at the chart to the left. The first chart shows each network based on total unique audience with Google in the lead. It is followed by Yahoo, MSN/Live, Microsoft and AOL. Remember AOL's last-place position in this chart for later. There is a gap of roughly 20 million people between first and last place.

But you may not have wanted to go with total audience, instead you want to use page views as your metric. Well, in that case Yahoo is your network of choice. Yahoo is followed by Fox (including MySpace), Google, MSN/Live and EBay. In this case there is a roughly 20 billion page view difference.

However, you may be detered by page views and total audience and find yourself looking at total time on the site. In that case AOL comes out of nowhere to take a firm lead (remember they were last in total audience). They're followed by Yahoo, MSN/Live, Fox and Google who drops like a stone. There is a difference of roughly 17.5 billion minutes between AOL and Google.

So what the heck does this mean to you? Let's look at each network to see what the metrics tell us.


aol_logo.jpgAOL - The AOL network is where to go if you want people who spend a lot of time there, but they are not generating a lot of page views in that time. There are an estimated 90 million people in the audience.


ebay_logo.jpgEbay - EBay pops up only in the page views metric as you would expect. Each listing is a page and visitors crank through them quickly. Total audience is lower as is the time on the site.


logo_fox.gifFox Interactive Media - The Fox network, while not large, generates quite a few page views and stays engaged with that content longer when you consider its size. I think MySpace has a large part to do with that summary. as people stay engaged, but constantly churn through pages of friends as well as adding content.


logo-Google.gifGoogle - Google is still the king of search so if you're looking for SEM and you want the volume, this is your stop (according to 2007 April figures from Nielsen//NetRatings, Google has the largest share of U.S. based web searches at 55.2% (Google Acquisitions), Yahoo is second at 21.9%, MSN is third at 9.0%, AOL is fourth at 5.4%, and Ask is fifth at 1.8%). The downside of Google is that people are coming for a specific task and jumping off hence the low engagement times and high audience.


microsoft logo_qjpreviewth.jpgMicrosoft - The Microsoft audience is large as you would expect, but that's where the company's advantage ends. They don't show up on the total time on site or the page views metrics.


250px-MSN_(logo).pngMSN/Windows Live - MSN represents Microsoft's consumer facing entity and their Live search function. Live has been picking up some momentum in total search volume, but they've a long way to go to catch Google. MSN comfortably sits in the middle of the pack on almost every point. They dip below when it comes to page views. It's a large audience that spends an average amount of time on fewer pages.


yahoo-logo.jpgYahoo - Yahoo comes out the best of any network when you look at each metric. They have the second largest audience, the most number of page views and the second most time in minutes. This should be an attractive combination to marketers especially in targeted display ads. Yahoo still lags behind Google for SEM where there is still a 30%+ gap.


In the end, no matter who you are or who you are marketing to, it comes down to a few key factors:

  • Find your audience. If they're not using Google then you're wasting your money
  • Relevance is key. Making hyper-targeted ad buys will help make sure relevance is there and waste is minimal
  • Nobody likes iterruption. The last thing I want is to have my visit to a network interrupted by your ad. Give me some value and be relevant to what I am looking at. If I'm in the auto repair section, don't offer me camera equipment.
  • Think outside the banner. Look at sponsorships or creating value-add programs to hook users.
  • Think social. Engaging with the community on a social level will lead to more success. Think about shifting dollars to social/conversational media. You may get more bang for your buck.

What do you consider when you run ads? Have you started shifting dollars to digital? Are you shifting those dollars to social media? Let me know in the comments.


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Why is Ask.com selling the drill bit?

ask-logo-13518.gifOne of the earliest bits of marketing knowledge that was imparted to me was the lesson of the drillbit. The saying is along the lines of "people don't buy a 1/4 inch drill bit, they buy a 1/4 inch hole". The focus on the end result and the benefit over the feature has stuck with me over time.

When I started seeing the new ad campaign for Ask.com, this lesson came flying back into my mind. The ads are mostly unbranded placements that focus on their algorithm. My immediate thought was "I bet Google is doing this", not good for Ask. Secondly I thought "who cares about the algorithm?". If you have not seen the messages, here are a couple pulled off of Flickr:


Photo by johntrainor

Photo by stan

Photo by mil8

Photo by mlinksva

Here is a TV ad in the same campaign:

Feed readers click here.

If you are not a computer scientist or an engineer at a search company, why should you care about the algorithm? I don't think most Americans know what an algorithm is, much less how it benefits them.

I don't envy the position Ask is in. They are a smaller player in an industry with a LOT of very well funded competition. This campaign, however, is not helping their cause. Selling the algorithm is the equivalent of selling the drillbit. What I'm really after are better search results. That's the hole they should be selling. That's the need I have that needs to be filled and is currently filled well by Google. Tell me how you do that in plain English and I may listen.

Their new TV campaign does have more focus on the benefit even if the over-the-top, broadway-esque production detracts from the message. He got what he was looking for. They need to expand on this point with new ads that reach more people.

Feed readers click here.

Search is a game that extends well beyond the browser. I interact with my search engine of choice from my global search on my desktop, from the toolbar on Firefox, from my OSX dashboard widget and they touch my life in many other ways too. Ask needs to tell me why I should make those moves and dislodge my current option. Their new 3D search is a start, but it's not really much different than what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are doing. The results seem about the same too.

My question is why should I switch? I asked, now I'll wait for the answer. What would make you switch? Are they doing enough with these ads to make you try them out?


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Buzz Friday for June 1, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

Thanks to CK for providing me the inspiration to start doing this entry with video. This is the inaugural post so check it out! (Would anybody be interested in seeing this become a separate video podcast feed? Let me know in the comments.)

Here are all of the items I think are interesting this week:

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. youtube
  2. ron paul
  3. myspace
  4. orkut
  5. bebo
  6. paris hilton
  7. dailymotion
  8. cecilia bolocco
  9. facebook
  10. google gears

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Feedster
  2. CrazyEgg
  3. Revver
  4. Kaboodle
  5. Bolt

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Creating Passionate Users
  2. Seth's Blog
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Daily Fix
  6. Converstations
  7. Drew's Marketing Minute
  8. The Viral Garden
  9. Jaffe Juice
  10. Church of the Customer

Be sure to check out Mack's new blog design and note that this list is now running off of Technorati rankings and not Alexa.
View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Women in art
  2. Miss USA 2007 slip
  3. Sony's Flexible, full color LCD
  4. Google Maps Street View
  5. Battle at Kruger

More


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What won't be around in five years?

iStock_000000806066XSmall.jpgThis was the question that was asked of a panel I saw recently here in Cleveland. The panelists each took a good shot at the answer, but to me they missed the most glaring option. Software.

Software as we know it will not be around in five years. I'm talking about dead, packaged, disconnected software. New versions of software are already starting to appear and they use the web browser as their operating system. Look at Google Docs and Spreadsheets. They've created an online version of the word processor and spreadsheet. Google has a presentation application in the works to complete the office suite.

The problem up until now has been working online. If you're working on a project proposal in Word, you can have it auto save for you and you have a local copy. Using online apps meant no local copy and if you accidentally closed your browser, you lost your work.

Google just took a huge step to bring the online offline. Google Gears (still in beta) allows Google apps to store data and run apps locally when you are offline.. Google Reader is first with Docs and Spreadsheets to follow. The app responds like you're connected and when you re-connect it syncs up where you left off. Third party developers can write their own web-based applications to use this technology.

So in five years (or less) software as you know it will not be what you know today. The productivity suite you use for presentations, word processing and spreadsheets may not have the same name on it either. Your software will be a living, breathing entity updating each time you connect, allowing you to stay connected even when you're not.

Best of all worlds, Google's suite of applications is free. No license right now. Have you tried these apps online? Would you consider ditching your Microsoft Office suite for the Google Office? Microsoft has plans to do something similar, but Google has taken the lead and pushed the boundaries of what is possible. On top of that, Google's platform will allow others to take advantage and bring their services offline. Think Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

Just another thing to add to my day with Google.



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Google is stalking me, but what does it mean?

crystalball.jpgI wish I had a crystal ball to see where the online landscape will be in 5-10 years. The only thing I know for sure is that it will look very different than it does now. Google's invasiveness in my life will certainly change, but it's not a bad thing right now. They are adding value to my life and making my day easier. They're friendly and colorful and people go out of their way to evangelize their products and services. But this may not always be the case. I can think of a couple other companies who are/were this invasive.

Hindsight is 20/20 the old saying goes. I see parallels between Google's current path and a couple other companies that go by the name of Yahoo and Microsoft. Each of those companies attempted to be and, in each case, had a chance to become what Google is today before taking a back seat.

To read the rest of my article click over to The Madison Avenue Journal.

Click here for the back-story of how Google is stalking me.


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Buzz Friday (week of May 4)

buzz_listen.jpg
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

 

 

Items I think are interesting:

Top Five Technorati Blogs
**This doesn't change so this is the last week I will feature this item**


  1. Engadget
  2. Boing Boing
  3. Gizmodo
  4. Techcrunch
  5. The Huffington Post

View Top 100

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. galilea montijo
  2. youtube
  3. myspace
  4. joost
  5. silverlight
  6. next07
  7. digg
  8. britney spears
  9. pandora
  10. shoppero

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. SmugMug
  2. Newsvine
  3. Flixter
  4. Woot!
  5. Revver

More

Top Five Web2.0 Sites (using Alexa data)
**This is also not changing so I will discontinue it and find a new item to include**


  1. YouTube
  2. MySpace
  3. Orkut
  4. Wikipedia
  5. hi5

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden
**Expanded to include top 10 to show more change**


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Duct Tape Marketing
  5. Marketing Shift
  6. Daily Fix
  7. Converstations
  8. New School of Network Marketing
  9. Drew's Marketing Minute
  10. The Viral Garden

View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Oh Nine, Eff Nine
  2. Happy Feet Trailer
  3. David Hasselhoff Intoxicated
  4. Linkin Park What ive done original clip 2007
  5. Web 2.0 ... Beyond E-text (2nd Draft)

More


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Buzz Friday (week of April 20)

buzz_listen.jpg
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

 

 

Items I think are interesting:
  • If you don't know who Lionel Messi is, he is an Argentine soccer phenom playing in FC Barcelona. Check out this video. Fantastico! (This is a shout out to my friends in Buenos Aires.)
  • I added a link on my blog below LinkedIn to a service called MyZiki. You go on and create a profile for yourself and it aggregates all of your media (posts, photos, comments, twitters) in one place. They also buy the keywords for your name in major search engines so you come up at the top of the list. Go ahead and search for 'Matt Dickman' in Google and Yahoo. You'll see my Ziki ad show up at the top.
  • Nikon's PR force launched a blogger focused campaign for the D80 (the camera I personally use). It's gotten mixed feedback, but certainly has generated plenty of buzz. Check our Mack's post and the comments for more thoughts.
  • Valeria Maltoni at Conversation Agenct asks a question that I've been curious about. Is LinkedIn working for you? Hop over there and join the conversation (agent).
  • Speaking of LinkedIn, Mario Sundar (LinkedIn's new Customer Evangelist) has a couple great posts from the Web 2.0 Expo on the topic of Community Evangelism.
  • Seth Godin had a post on his Dip Blog last week asking for a list of quitters. I sent mine in and was chosen by Seth to receive a signed copy. I devoured it and will post more here when the book becomes publicly available on May 10. I recommend you go ahead and put your order in now.
  • In a hilarious twist of irony, Microsoft is urging an anti-trust review of the DoubleClick merger. There is even Microsoft conspiracy theory saying that MS intentionally ran up the price on DoubleClick and then lost on purpose.
  • Lots of new competition heating up in social tagging systems. MySpace announced a Digg-like service and Google announced a service close to StumbleUpon.
  • Coke announced a new venture in Second Life that has everybody talking. Done by Crayon, Virtual Thirst is an innovative move to invigorate the SL space after much doomsday talk in past weeks.

Top Five Technorati Blogs


  1. Engadget
  2. Boing Boing
  3. Gizmodo
  4. Techcrunch
  5. The Huffington Post

View Top 100

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. joost invite
  2. cho seung-hui
  3. virginia tech
  4. ismail ax
  5. youtube
  6. myspace
  7. sanjaya
  8. ubuntu
  9. web 2.0 expo
  10. messi (Argentine soccer phenom)

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Geni
  2. 37 Signale
  3. Bolt
  4. Ze Frank
  5. Frappr

More

Top Five Web2.0 Sites (using Alexa data)


  1. YouTube
  2. MySpace
  3. Orkut
  4. Wikipedia
  5. hi5

More

Top Five Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Duct Tape Marketing
  4. Gaping Void
  5. Marketing Shift

View the top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Gol de Messi al Getafe 18/04/07
  2. The Zimmers "My Generation"
  3. The Landlord
  4. Alanis Morissette "My Humps Video"
  5. Gangsta Happy Feet Remix

More


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What's worse than a flog? Why not to piss off the wikimmunity

150px-Wikipedia-logo-en-big.pngIf you're not familiar with the term 'flog' it means to fake a blog. There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere as more and more companies are trying to get a piece of the social marketing pie. The problem is that some of those companies are so unremarkable, with no real devoted following, that PR and advertising agencies are creating fictitious people to blog in the company's behalf. (See my posts '20 common mistakes of eager bloggers' point #9 and this post of mine on the DigiKnow blog for more information.)

I push all clients who we engage with to provide full transparency when dealing in social marketing. This includes who you are specifically and making sure the contribution you're making is in the spirit of the online community. The risks of not doing such far outweigh any benefits. Each community has its own neighborhood watch program. Citizen police forces band together to investigate, gather evidence and convict anyone found in violation.

The latest corporate miscalculation is Microsoft. They've been reported to have offered a blogger money to change their entry on Wikipedia, the free,online, open-source encyclopedia. This is a cardinal sin of the Wikimmunity. The posting, editing, change and approval processes make up the law and only legitimate alterations are accepted. Corrections from corporations are frowned upon due to their biased nature.

Here is just some of the coverage: CNN, WSJ, Redmond Magazine (an online Microsoft mag), Guardian and many more.

This only emphasizes the need for full disclosure and transparency when promoting corporate interests through social marketing whether that is through blogging, commenting on blogs, posting images, editing wikis or interacting in SecondLife. Interactions in these communities combined with Google's caching servers make getting away with anything almost impossible and certainly traceable.

Certainly social marketing can be done and can be effective if targeting the right audience, but it should be a piece of a broader marketing strategy.


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Free speech on the Internet

shush1.jpgI came across a post on Threadwatch titled 'Google and Other Internet Giants to Create a Code of Conduct'. My first instinct when I read this was one of a tempered mix of interest and dismay. Basically Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Vodafone are working with a couple of national rights groups to make sure that companies are held accountable when helping to suppress free speech or commit human rights violations.

A couple of points here are important. Yahoo! has already widely been accused (multiple times) for giving up information on a Chinese bloggers which led to their arrest and imprisonment. Google and Microsoft have been accused of enforcing censorship within China as well. Vodafone is the only company of the four which has escaped accusations on the internet. I wonder if these previous rights violators and perpetuators of censorship will adhere to their own rules.

Now, I hold some personal admiration for these companies. They're creators of incredible solutions which have led to personal empowerment and brought terabytes of information  to millions of people. The bigger question here I think is why these companies should be allowed to create any such code (other than them wanting to). Is this like allowing felons to write new laws on the crimes they've already committed. What's the penalty if they're found in violation of the policies? Who monitors it? Who makes sure that small companies are protected? Who makes sure the people of the world are protected?

I am not saying this policy is not needed. It is. This could, and I hope it would, work for these big companies. This is a serious matter which is central to what the Internet is all about, freeing information and voices.

But why not have the internet community participate in this discussion and democratize this process? The people own the Internet. We're talking about a set of global operating principles here that reach far beyond US borders. Could a wiki be created to allow Internet users to weigh in and help to craft the guiding laws which will effect them and their children? It surely seems possible.

What are your thoughts on this? Are these companies trying to do the right thing or is this a PR move plain and simple? The outcome is vital to freedom of speech around the world.

 

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Google gives incentive for using Checkout

checkout.gif


I just saw the message in the image above on the Google home page offering users $10 to use Google Checkout. This is an interesting tactic to increase awareness of Checkout as well as showcase some of Google's key commerce partners.

I am personally torn on using Checkout. I understand the concept and the reason Google is trying to succeed where other giants have failed (read MS Wallet). I do hesitate to use it though as I am comfortable with the vendors I buy through online and this would mean that Google has access to my credit card and address info. That's one of the reasons that MS Wallet failed in the first place. Why would someone use this service over going to Amazon?


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Bill Gates on ScobleShow

An interesting video interview with Bill Gates and a core set of influential bloggers is up on the ScobleShow site. Gates is very approachable and a very curious guy. I wonder if Steve Jobs would ever do something like this and seem so approachable?


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CES v. MacWorld ... Gates v. Jobs

applewin.jpgMacWorld and CES are booked in the same time slot this year and it's making the blogosphere an interesting (possibly only) good place to follow the two. I am looking forward to seeing the showdown. Mac v PC. Jobs v Gates. Cupertino v Redmond. Keynote v. PowerPoint. Gates is tonight and Jobs is Tuesday so we'll have to wait and see.


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Microsoft and MTV launch Urge 

Urge, a new download subscription service from MTV and Microsoft, has just officially been announced. Will stay tuned to see how this is adopted, if at all, and how iTunes reacts. Probably a smart move from Microsoft to latch on to the hip, cool MTV brand.

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