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Google broadens search overseas

The company will power search results for visitors to one of the largest Web sites in South Korea, heating up the competition with Google's chief rival there.

Google said Wednesday that it licensed its search technology to Daum Communications, operator of one of the largest South Korean Web sites, in its latest competitive move overseas.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company will start powering search results for visitors to Daum.net by the end of March, according to a Google spokeswoman. Financial terms and duration of the recently signed deal were not disclosed.

With the partnership, Google further challenges its chief rival Overture Services in South Korea, a nascent market for both companies. In January, Overture signed a three-year exclusive deal with Daum to provide sponsored search results on its network, as part of its expansion to that region.

Armed with relatively new or upcoming offerings, both Overture and Google could have won Daum's business for serving Web search and sponsored listings. Daum's move to divide the business between Web and commercial search is a sign of the ongoing rivalry between the two companies.

Late last year, Overture and Google jousted for partnerships with Yahoo Japan, which signed nonexclusive deals for sponsored search results with both companies. Google licenses its Web search results to Yahoo Japan, a subsidiary of Yahoo.

While Google's specialty lies in powering Web-wide search results for its popular site and those of its partners, the company has quickly become well known for delivering commercial listings that appear alongside those results. Last year, Google began syndicating advertising listings to third parties, taking on Overture in its signature business.

Overture lets advertisers bid for placement in search results that appear across a network of partner Web sites, including Yahoo and MSN. When Web surfers click on those listings, the advertiser pays a bid-for fee to Overture, which splits the revenue with partners. To build on its core business and compete better against Google, the company recently purchased Web search technology from AltaVista and Fast Search & Transfer for nearly $240 million.

South Korea is considered by some to be one of the world's fastest growing Internet markets, yet Daum.net has a relatively small audience compared with sites such as Google. It drew about 766,000 unique visitors worldwide in January, according to ComScore Media Metrix, a Web measurement firm. In comparison, Google drew 126.2 million visitors worldwide in January. But according to Amazon's Alexa measurement company, Daum.net ranks third in a list of top 500 Web sites behind Yahoo and MSN.