MySpace Looking To Auction Search To Google, Microsoft or Yahoo

We heard last month that MySpace is interested in partnering with Google or Microsoft. Now Yahoo appears to be in the running. MySpace-owner News Corp's Chief Operating Officer Peter Chermin said today MySpace plans to "auction off our search business of of the three biggest, Google, Yahoo and MSN, and see the best we can get."

I thought Yahoo was already powering the results at MySpace, since you can see Yahoo results coming up when you search over there. This Reuters article mentions the same. But Yahoo tells me that's not the case. It's undisclosed Yahoo partners that are reselling Yahoo's results to MySpace. And presumably, MySpace would get a better deal by cutting out the middlemen.

Coincidentally, TechCrunch had a post today about MySpace and its stature as the sixth largest search network, based on recent comScore figures. But as I commented over there

Let?s qualify that sixth place ranking. They have a 0.6% share of the US search market which is way, way behind 5th place Ask with a 5.8% share and not even registering with Google?s 43.1% share. Well, they?ll catch up. Yeah, maybe. Then again, with all those pages viewed, this is the best they can do with search activity already? And that search is powered by Yahoo, so though MySpace isn?t a Yahoo site, Yahoo certainly gets its listings in front of this small percentage of searchers.

You can't ignore the monster that MySpace has become and the potential it represents. Then again, it currently is tiny in search even with those millions of users.

Postscript: Previously I'd written that Revenue Science was providing the middleman service of search results for MySpace, because that was the name I was given by Yahoo when I asked about the search results. Yahoo later pointed out that they said Revenue Science resold their contextual listings to MySpace but that the keyword-triggered results are handled by others, partners they won't name.

Revenue Science also emailed to say they do more than act as a middleman for web sites, providing ads based on behavioral activity. That's true. And they may be providing behavioral ads for MySpace. It's whoever is providing the search results that's serving as the go-between.