RealTime IT News

Overture, AOL Europe Expand Deal

Overture Services and AOL Europe announced a deal on Wednesday to expand their year-old relationship, as Overture eyes Europe as an engine for growth in paid search.

The multiyear agreement calls for up to four Overture paid listings to appear at the top of the search directory pages on AOL Europe sites in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Through the two companies' partnership, announced last January, Overture's paid listings already appear on searches from those countries' AOL portals. In addition, Netscape sites in France and Germany will carry three Overture listings on their search results pages.

"I think the extension of our agreement really reinforces our clear leadership in Europe," said Johannes Larcher, general manager of Overture International.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Overture's agreement with AOL Europe expires in 2005.

Larcher said the win was particularly sweet since it came against bidding from rival Google. In the United States, Overture suffered its biggest blow in its battle with Google in May 2002, when AOL switched its paid-search partnership to Google.

"Google has not yet won a deal in Europe that's particularly meaningful in the European context," Larcher said.

The AOL Europe deal increases Overture's exposure to AOL Europe's 6.4 million subscribers. Overture has looked to extend its reach abroad, where the paid search market is just getting off the ground.

Overture has secured a number of wins abroad against rival Google, while also facing homegrown competition from UK-based eSpotting, which has partnership deals with Yahoo!'s UK and Ireland sites. Last month, eSpotting signed a deal with Norway-based search company FAST to offer a complete search package to clients.

Larcher dismissed eSpotting as "a local copycat" of Overture, adding, "I'm not losing sleep over eSpotting."

In late December, Overture's European unit got a shot in the arm when it secured partnerships with the top ISPs in the UK and France. The company also has operations in Germany, where it has a deal with T-Online, the dominant ISP and portal in that country. Overture and Google split a contract with Yahoo! Japan last November. It also plans to open operations in Korea in the next few months.

Overture has a network of 73,000 advertisers, but the company does not break out how many are international.