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LookSmart reintroduces bid-for-placement ads

LookSmart, which specializes in listing flat-fee commercial links in Web search results, reintroduced on Thursday a bid-for-placement Web advertising service it once offered through its U.K. operation that will compete directly with Google and Yahoo. LookSmart is facing the threat of losing its chief customer, Microsoft, as the software giant builds its own search technology.

LookSmart is banking on its ability to sell a search marketing auction system that's more friendly to partners such as Net operators and Web portals than those from rivals. Google and Yahoo (which will soon own commercial search pioneer Overture Services) are focused on building audiences of their own, while LookSmart wants to do the same for its partners, LookSmart argues. The company's sponsored listings results will be distributed to CNET Networks (publisher of CNET News.com), Road Runner and InfoSpace, among others.