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Microsoft Launches Celebrity Site Wonderwall
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Microsoft has partnered with media company BermanBraun Interactive to launch an entertainment and celebrity site for MSN called Wonderwall.

With a slew of similar entertainment focused sites already in existence, Microsoft’s move is a gamble, but the company says the entertainment gossip category continues to grow and in the last year it increased 14 percent. Microsoft is also counting on the fact that 84 percent of people on the Internet in the U.S. visit an entertainment site every month.

Google Maintains Search Advertising Lead
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Google held onto its search advertising market lead during the fourth quarter with 76 percent market share while Yahoo gained 3 percent share year-over-year, according to a report from Efficient Frontier.

The search marketing firm based its report on analysis of 92 million impressions and 600 million clicks across a portion of its customers.

Google Holds On As Top Property For December
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The holiday shopping season brought increased traffic to a number of categories including retail, shipping and weather sites, according to comScore Media Metrix.

Traffic to retail sites grew in December as consumers searched for holiday gifts and discounts. Jewelry/Luxury Goods/Accessories jumped 30 percent to 25 million visitors to rank as the top-gaining category for the month.

Google Top Property In November
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The official start of the holiday shopping season saw Americans flock to online retail sites, boosting several categories, including toys, consumer electronics and department stores, to double-digit traffic gains in November, according to comScore.

YouTube Grabs 100 Million Video Viewers
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U.S. Internet users watched 13.5 billion online videos during October, marking a 45 percent increase compared to a year ago, according to comScore Video Metrix.

In October, Google sites once again dominated, ranking as the top U.S. video property with 5.3 billion videos viewed (representing a 40 percent share of all video viewed) with YouTube accounting for more than 98 percent of all videos viewed at the property.

Hotmail Team Getting Ready For Hotmail
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The Windows Hotmail Team has been responding to users feedback on the recent updates to Windows Live Hotmail.

The Hotmail Team says it has fixed problems surrounding using larger text size in the browser, viewing favorite contacts and accessing Hotmail from Firefox on Linux.

The next update to Hotmail is scheduled for mid-December and will focus on how scrolling works.

Google Increases Internet Search Share
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Google continues to dominate the U.S. search market share and in October it accounted for 63.1 percent of all searches, up from 58.5 percent in the previous year and up slightly from 62.9 percent in September according to comScore.

Yahoo landed the second spot with 20.5 percent, a decrease from 22.9 percent a year ago but up from 20.2 percent in September.

Microsoft ranked third with 8.5 percent in October, the same percentage it had in September but down from 9.7 percent from October 2007.

Microsoft Promotes Live Search In Canada With Contest
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Microsoft has introduced a new contest to Canadian users in an effort to promote its Live Search.

The promotion is called "Big Ticket" an online card game. Users are randomly dealt two cards when they conduct a query on Live Search. If the cards match users will be eligible to win a prize.

Microsoft Live Search Cashback Paying Off
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Microsoft says that its Live Search cashback program, launched in May to attract more users has done well in three key areas.

Its cashback program has had a positive return on investment for advertisers (ROI), percentage of search queries for commercial purposes, and the number of advertising offers on the system.

Microsoft Reaches Search Deal With Sun Microsystems
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Microsoft has struck a search distribution deal with Sun Microsystems to provide its MSN Toolbar to U.S. based Internet Explorer users when they download Sun’s Java Runtime Environment platform.

Google, Yahoo And Microsoft Adopt Human Rights Rules

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are set to adopt a new set of guidelines on how to do business in countries that restrict free speech and expression.

Google Up, Up and Away
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For another straight month, Google has gained in search share. At this point you wonder why one bothers measuring by the month. How about for the 15th (at least) straight quarter Google has gained in search share? How about for the fourth straight year, Google has gained in search share?

I’m not sure about that last statement. I’ve only been covering search for three and a half years. You know how many months during that time Yahoo has beaten Google in search share?

Not a one.

Microsoft?

Ha!

Customers Cry Foul On Wal-Mart’s DRM Decision

 In yet another shutdown of DRM servers, following on the heels of Yahoo and MSN Music,Wal-Mart is also shutting down their DRM servers casting millions of dollars in media locked into one computer, unless you can copy it over to disk. 

Advocacy Group Forms To Combat Piracy

An advocacy group created by a number of major media and technology companies plans to promote the Internet as a place for people to get songs, television shows and movies without turning to piracy.

Google Remains Top Property In August

The Olympics and the U.S. Presidential campaign were the primary drivers of Internet traffic during the month of August, leading to increased visits at politics, sports, news and humor sites according to comScore Media Metrix.

The politics category rose 33 percent to 14 million visitors as many Americans focused on the presidential race.  The fastest growing category for the month was led by BarackObama.com with nearly 4 million visitors (up 113% from July), while JohnMcCain.com surged 108 percent to 1.4 million visitors.

Mobile Search Growth Up 68 Percent
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Mobile search is increasing in both popularity and frequency in the U.S. and Western Europe.

In June 2008, 20.8 million U.S. mobile subscribers and 4.5 million European mobile subscribers used mobile search during the month, an increase of 68 and 38 percent from June 2007, respectively, according to comScore M: Metrics.

The U.K. had the highest penetration of mobile subscribers using search at 9.5 percent, trailed closely by the U.S. at 9.2 percent.

No Google Doodle For 911
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Google is known for its fun and interesting doodles celebrating various holidays and events. Yesterday they had a doodle of the Large Hadron Collider to recognize the launch of an experiment that aims to discover more information about the Big Bang.

YouTube Top Video Site In July
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Americans viewed more than 11.4 billion videos in July for a total duration of 558 million hours according to comScore Video Metrix.

AOL Opening Up To Third-Party Content

AOL has introduced a new feature on its homepage that allows users to access multiple email services from third parties.

The company says it is revamping AOL.com to offer users more choice and customization in an effort to attract more traffic.

No Apparent Stopping Point For Google
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If this were anywhere other than the Land of the Free we could take bets on how long it takes Google to grab 75 percent of the search market. What are we lookin’ at here, December? What are the odds Google grabs 80 percent by next August? Wait before you wager, there are new numbers in.

Canadians Pleased With Major Search Engines
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The majority of Canadians who go online are satisfied with their search results from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Live Search, according to a new study by Ipsos Reid.

Eight in ten (80%) online Canadians said they are receiving the best results from their primary search engines. Sixty-six percent said their search results are objective and three-quarters said they could usually find what they are looking for on the first page of results.

When it comes to paid advertising within search results 62 percent of Canadians say they are skeptical of paid ads.