Google testing new ‘Listen Now’ ads for artists and albums

Google artist adGoogle has started testing a new form of advertising that gives listeners a direct link to a streaming service. The Wall Street Journal reported that the music services are paying for the spots by the click, similar to Google’s other paid text link ads. It also said that the ads will show up on both mobile devices and personal computers. “We’re happy to help users quickly find legitimate sources for their favorite movies, music and more via Google search,” an unnamed Google rep told WSJ.

We tested out several searches for pop sensation Lady Gaga, hip-hop duo Outkast, and rock staple Led Zeppelin. Based on our experiments, the music ads are for Google Play, Rhapsody, Spotify, and Beats Music. They appear in the right sidebar under the header “Listen Now”  accompanied by a yellow box that reads “Ads.” Right now, the links show up in searches for an artist and for many albums, and they will take you to the service. You won’t be able to listen to any services that require a paid subscription, but it’s easy to sign up from any of the landing pages the ads direct to.

When you search for a specific track, though, the top hit is a YouTube video. Interestingly, searching for a track that has no official music video still yields YouTube as the first hit. Led Zeppelin’s “Rain Song” goes to a fan video that just shows a still of the album art. We’re curious to see whether Google will eventually weed out these unofficial hits and focus only on the videos and services that support the labels and artists.

Anna Washenko