In its biggest client win to date, search technology upstart Google, Inc. has added AOL, CompuServe, AOL.COM and Netscape to its paid listings roster, beating out incumbent Overture Services
for the lucrative deal.
announced the deal Tuesday after the oft-extended deadline for a renewal of the Overture deal passed, giving the contract to Google to power its pay-for-placement search results. Overture will hang on to its deal to run AOL Europe’s search listings in the UK, Germany, and France but give way to Google in the U.S. sites by August.
While Overture went into spin-mode (…they released the news at 10 pm ET Tuesday night…) to cushion the blow from losing AOL’s business, the excitement at Google was palpable.
“We’re delighted (and pleased) that America Online has selected our growing paid listings service, which offers a cost-effective way to market and advertise while providing relevant search results to consumers,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt raved in a statement.
While financial terms of the deal were not released, it is a massive coup for Google, which already has a deal with mega-portal Yahoo
under its belt.
Terms of the pact call for a marketing agreement to allow Google to provide AOL and CompuServe members and users of AOL.COM and Netscape its targeted paid listings product, which offers a selection of listings ranked by relevancy and other factors, from Google’s rapidly growing base of advertisers.
Google said its paid listings would begin rolling out on the AOL service and AOL.COM immediately; they will launch on Netscape and CompuServe in the next several weeks. Upon completion of the rollout, Google will be the exclusive provider of Sponsored Links for the search areas in these America Online properties.
Describing Google as the “reigning champ of online search,” AOL COO-elect Bob Pittman said the deal brings provides a popular search function and targeted search listings for the 34 million members and tens of millions of visitors to America Online’s Web-based properties.
Google, which boasts of having the largest index of websites available on the Internet, responds to more than 150 million search queries on a given day.
The Mountain View, CA-based firm, founded in 1998 and backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, also has corporate search deals in place with Sony Corp. and Cisco Systems.
Google and Overture are locked in a patent infringement lawsuit over the bid-for-placement technology used by both companies.
The Pasadena, Calif.-based Overture, which filed its suit against Google in the U.S. Federal District Court in Los Angeles, charges that the smaller firm violates U.S. Patent No. 6,269,361, “System and method for influencing a position on a search result list generated by a computer network search engine.” The patent, held by Overture, protects bid-for-placement products as well as Overture’s DirecTraffic Center account management system and tools.
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