Overture to bring web style ads to mobile search engines

30 Mar 2004

Commercial search engine services company Overture, which is in the process of creating 250 new jobs in Dublin, has revealed that it has struck two major deals with Vodafone and Orange to put advertiser-sponsored search engine links common on most internet search engines on mobile phones.

Vodafone and France Telecom-owned Orange will begin displaying the new advertisements later this spring on their WAP portals Vodafone live! and Orange World.

Overture, owned by Yahoo, started the practice of selling ordinary-looking Web page links at the top of search engine query lists. Selling ads in this way has driven the recovery of online advertising and has triggered a pitched battle between some of the largest Internet companies including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s MSN. The push is now to bring such services to the hundreds of millions of Internet-enabled gadgets and mobile phones.

The company, which already employs over 100 people at its European headquarters at East Point Business Park, accounts for 50pc of the US$2bn internet advertising market and was acquired by portal giant Yahoo! in July last year for €1.63bn. The company employs more than 1,400 people worldwide.

At launch, Overture will sell WAP page adverts on the mobile operators’ travel portals. A mobile phone user searching for an airfare can navigate with a few key taps to an advertisers’ specially designed WAP page and make a purchase by tapping a “call this number” link. One such advertiser is online travel agent Lastminute.com.

Established by IdeaLab founder Bill Gross in 1997, Overture pioneered commercial search by aligning the interests of consumers, its 88,000 active, paying advertisers and its distribution partners, including Yahoo!, MSN and CNN. The company offers a full suite of Internet search products and search-related services. In addition, the company operates the AltaVista.com and AlltheWeb.com websites. In recent months the company signed an extended agreement with Microsoft to provide advertising placement across all international MSN websites.

Effectively, Overture integrates advertisements into its searches and receives royalty payments from advertisers when a person performing a search clicks on a site.

By John Kennedy