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Overture Services Inc. (Nasdaq: OVER), the world's leading provider of Pay-For-Performance search to Web sites across the Internet, today announced that it has signed an agreement through at least 2003 to provide its search results to MSN.
Overture will distribute its high-quality Pay-For-Performance search listings on MSN Search.
Under the agreement, MSN's search results pages will feature Overture's top three Pay-For-Performance search listings submitted by its growing base of advertisers under the heading "Sponsored Sites." The agreement builds upon an existing relationship between Overture and MSN, under which Overture provides its search results to users of MSN Search from the Microsoft Internet Explorer search pane.
One point from the press release:
"MSN's search product provides highly useful results through the integration of best-in-class search providers and an outstanding editorial team," said John Gentry, senior vice president
The reference to the outstanding editorial team - that tends to imply that what I assume is beng referred to, the featured listings, are editorially chosen, which would be by virtue of value of the content. That is what I assumed, and to be honest, wondered how it was done and how the selections were made. Until I found out that they were actually paid for listings.
Prior to beng told, there was no indication or even a clue that they were paid for, making them technically advertising, and not editorial content at all, since the information about them said that they were special listings chosen by their editorial staff. That seems to be a substantial lack of disclosure. I don't know what else to call it.