Yahoo! Adds Paid Search Listings

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(AP) Popular Internet gateway Yahoo! Inc. will start letting advertisers pay to be listed in results generated by the site’s search engine.

The new program, announced Tuesday, but which starts Thursday, is a partnership with Overture Inc., formerly known as GoTo.com — a search site that has generated a surprising amount of profits by auctioning off the rankings in its search engine.

Although the method displeases some consumer activists, many popular sites, including MSN, AOL, and AltaVista, also use Pasadena-based Overture’s service to fuel their search results.

Overture will supply five paid listings to Yahoo! search pages, and will pay Yahoo! every time a user clicks on one of the links. Yahoo! says the advertisers’ listings will be shown in clearly marked sections, separate from other relevant findings.

Yahoo! wants to find more diverse revenue sources and to become more appealing to advertisers. The company has sold targeted banner ads on its search pages for years, but has not sold search engine results themselves.

The deal with Overture, which expires in April, can serve as a short-term solution for Yahoo! until it can develop the sales force and technical capability to offer the paid search listings itself, said Greg Coleman, who heads Yahoo!’s North American operations.

The deal does not change Yahoo’s other major search partnership — which calls for Google to provide results on topics not found in Yahoo’s own directories.

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