Overture, the paid-for search broker, has retained MSN, its second biggest client after its parent company, Yahoo!, for another year.
MSN has appointed Overture to supply the sponsored search results on its US, Canadian, European and Asian websites, until the end of June 2006. The one-year extension of a deal, which has been running since 2001, will keep Overture on its toes, but surely at some point MSN will choose or buy an ad broker that is not owned by a direct competitor.
The company has already begun a big push on unsponsored search. In July, it unveiled a new-look search site, courtesy of a $100m investment. However, the underlying technology is based on Inktomi, yet another Yahoo!-owned company. MSN is beta-testing its own search technology; it seems reasonable to infer that it will make the switch in the latter half of next year.
Last month, Overture lost the AOL Europe account to arch-rival Google. Overture said the terms of the deal made no financial sense and that the loss of the contract would have no material effect on earnings. ®
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