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Google, Amazon in a war of search words

As Amazon.com starts to move into Web search, it finds itself fighting for top computer scientists on Google's home turf: search results.

Google and Amazon.com are fighting for top computer scientists on Google's home turf: search results.

When Web surfers use Google to search on the name "Udi Manber," who is president of Amazon's newly formed search unit, A9.com, they'll find the first result is an ad for jobs at Google.

Amazon countered late Thursday by sponsoring its own recruiting ad on Manber's name through Google's self-serve ad program, AdWords. Still, Google's ad appears above Amazon's.

A representative for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google confirmed that it placed its own job ad keyed to Manber's name, along with computer-science terms and the names of famous computer scientists. These include "document similarity" and "Page, Brin"--after Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Seattle-based Amazon declined to comment for this story, but its new sales pitch comes as reports surface that it's building its own shopping search technology and is on the hunt for talented software engineers in Silicon Valley, Google's headquarters.

The contest also comes five months after Google and Amazon entered a search pact that has Google powering Amazon's Web and commercial search results for at least two years.

Nevertheless, the online retailer recently placed Manber at the helm of A9, a separately branded company based in Palo Alto, Calif. He's charged with hiring and building the "best e-commerce search technology" for internal use and third parties, to launch in October, according to company spokeswoman Alison Diboll. Still, industry analysts say that A9 could easily pit Amazon against Google and other large search providers.

Google's keyword ads are just one facet of the company's hiring campaign. It recently established Code Jam 2003, a programming contest in which the top contestant wins $10,000 and a potential job at Google.