Overture Out, Google In At AOL

Overture announced today that its relationship to provide paid listings to AOL has ended, and the appearance of paid listings from Google on the AOL Search site suggests that Google is Overture's likely successor.

Overture has been providing paid listings to AOL since October 2000. The listings have appeared under the "Sponsored Links" heading on the AOL Search site in the United States, as well as appearing on AOL-owned search sites run under the Netscape and CompuServe brands in the US.

Overture is now out as the paid listings provider for all of these AOL sites in the US, though Overture's deal to provide paid listings to AOL sites in the United Kingdom, Germany and France remains unaffected.

AOL has made no official announcement about who will take over the deal, but paid listings from the Google AdWords program are now appearing at AOL Search. For several weeks, Google AdWords have also been appearing on the CompuServe search site.

Overture listings do continue to appear in the "Partner Search Results" area of Netscape Search, but these are to be phased out by August. Overture results are supposed to have been removed from the "Sponsored Links" section of CompuServe, but they remain there as well.

Overture has previously stated that its rosy financial guidance for the remainder of the year has not assumed that the AOL deal would be renewed. Given this, Overture should still be on track for a year of record profits, which has many stock analysts excited over the company. In addition, Overture just renewed an unprecedented three-year contract to continue providing paid listings to Yahoo.

However, if Google is indeed the new AOL paid listings provider, it is a giant step forward in that company's plans to play in the distribution space that Overture has until now dominated. Advertisers already seek out Google because of the huge amount of search traffic its own site generates. Gaining distribution on AOL's popular search sites only makes the company's ad programs an even more compelling prospect, in terms of reach.

I'll be examining the Yahoo-Overture and AOL-Google deals in more detail when the next Search Engine Report newsletter comes out on May 6. In addition, there will be more detailed coverage of the significant changes LookSmart has made to compete in the paid listings space last month. Extended coverage will also be provided to Search Engine Watch members, in the Search Engine Update newsletter they receive. More information about either newsletter is below, along with more details on the stories above.

Search Engine Report

Free monthly newsletter next out on May 6, with more details about the above story.

Search Engine Watch Membership

Members of Search Engine Watch get a twice-monthly newsletter. The May 6 edition will have extended details of the two programs, especially helpful to those involved with site promotion.



Overture Press Releases

Overture has emailed their press release on the AOL deal but not yet posted it. Watch this page, where it should appear shortly.

AOL Search



Overture Raises Guidance, Ends America Online Pact
Reuters, May 1, 2002

Rundown from the Overture press release, with additional details about Overture's financial performance this year.

Overture Boosts Full-Year Estimate,
Says U.S. Pact With AOL Deal Expires

Dow Jones, May 1, 2002

Another early story on the announcement.

Overture Scores on Earnings, Yahoo
InternetNews.com, April 26, 2002

Background on the recent Yahoo deal and Overture earnings.

Overture beats Street, extends Yahoo deal
Reuters, April 25, 2002

Another story with details on the Yahoo deal and Overture earnings.

Google Takes On Overture With Pay Per Click Ads
The Search Engine Report, March 4, 2002

Google's new pay-per-click payment option for its "AdWords" program may make it more attractive to some advertisers -- as well as establishing the company as serious competitor with Overture.

LookSmart Changing To Cost-Per-Click Basis
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2002

Brief details here on the significant change LookSmart made early last month, with a link to an article for Search Engine Watch members with many more details that came out once the program was launched. A general overview will also be made available on May 6.

Pay For Placement?
Compendium of articles from Search Engine Watch and other sources about paid listings on search engines

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was About.com's Web Search Guide.