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Overture encroaches on Google's turf

In a win over rival Google, Overture will provide search services to Net publisher Knight Ridder Digital.

In a win over rival Google, Overture Services said Monday that Net publisher Knight Ridder Digital will use its search services for one year.

Under the deal, Overture, which is based in Pasadena, Calif., will be the exclusive provider of algorithmic and commercial search listings on Knight Ridder Digital's network of newspaper sites, including the San Jose Mercury News and Miami Herald. Also, Knight Ridder Digital will be a test ground for new content-targeted advertising from Overture, which is being acquired by Yahoo in a $1.6 billion deal.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The agreement gives Overture another major distribution partner as it competes for market share against chief rival Google. It's also a strategic win for Overture, given that Knight Ridder had the option of signing on Google's services.

Both companies license general-search and sponsored-search services. Sponsored-search services let marketers bid for placement in search listings. Marketers pay only when Web surfers click on the link.

To broaden their respective services even further, Google and Overture introduced programs this year that allow publishers to take advantage of search technology to pinpoint and deliver relevant ads for general Web pages. Knight Ridder Digital started testing Google's new content-targeted program before it signed the deal with Overture. The company said it will continue to use Google's content-targeted service.

"After a careful evaluation of the top search providers, we were impressed by Overture's search services and product strategy," Tim Lambert, Knight Ridder Digital vice president of sales, said in a statement.

Under the deal, Overture's sponsored listings will appear at the top of general search results. Overture will deliver those general search results with Fast Search & Transfer technology, which it acquired earlier this year.

The deal also gives Knight Ridder Digital the right to extend Overture's search services to its affiliate sites on the Real Cities Network, a collection of local guides.