MSN Extends Overture Relationship

NEW YORK Microsoft’s MSN said that it has extended its sponsored-search distribution deal with Yahoo!-owned Overture to June 2006.

Under the terms of the agreement, Overture of Pasadena, Calif., will continue to provide sponsored-search results to MSN sites in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. The previous agreement, which began in 2001, ran through June 2005.

Despite the contract extension, MSN is said to be developing its own search-marketing tool. Regarding MSN’s designs in that realm, a company representative said, “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

The Redmond, Wash.-based Internet property, which has been playing catch-up in the red-hot search category, last week debuted a beta version of its search service featuring an index of more than 5 billion Web documents [IQ Daily Briefing, Nov. 11].

Inktomi, which like Overture, is owned by rival Yahoo!, has been providing MSN with algorithmic search technology. But, that relationship will be phased out after a complete version of MSN’s search service launches early next year, a rep said.