MSN, Microsoft's online portal, and Overture Services are testing an expanded relationship by padding MSN's main search results page with paid listings from Overture, the latest move by a major portal to commercialize search. The companies began tests two weeks ago and will publicly launch the MSN search functionality Jan. 8 in a trial that runs through February, according to John Gentry, senior vice president of Overture's affiliate business group. MSN is no stranger to paid listings; it also sells its own.
The new test builds on an early 2001 deal that let Overture provide sponsored results on Internet Explorer's tool-bar search. The latest deal lets people pull up sponsored links from Overture on the main page of MSN, following featured editorial results. Gentry said the companies have not agreed to offer the service long term. For Overture, the deal is the latest in a string of agreements with portals such as Yahoo and America Online.