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Ask Jeeves UK is to replace its sponsored search results supplier, swapping Espotting for Google AdWords.

The search company has already used Google AdWords "with excellent results" for nine months in the US, a spokeswoman noted. The financial terms offered by Google for Ask Jeeves' UK business was better, she said. In other words it struck a good deal over revenue split.

As with the Espotting gig, Ask Jeeves UK will position the top three listing from advertisers, supplied this time of course from Google. The advertisers are corralled into a section called "Websites I can show you" and are labelled as sponsored.

Ask Jeeves is the UK's 11th biggest Web property, claiming 6.6 million unique UK users a month - or 21 per cent of the country's search audience. With Ask Jeeves UK under its belt, Google now claims a UK reach of 63 per cent for its AdWords listings.

So the loss of Ask Jeeves UK must come as a blow for Espotting, Europe’s “best paid placement service”, not least because independent search engine with huge audiences are somewhat thin on the ground.

In press statements this year, the company pointed out that both Overture, the world's biggest sponsored search results supplier, and Google are in effect competing with their customers, because they have their own search portals too (Overture this year bought up both FAST's consumer business and AltaVista – both Espotting customers).

Yahoo! may have got the message. Yesterday it revealed that 21 per cent of its quarterly income came from Overture. Overture on the other hand is dependent on Yahoo! and MSN, relying on the two portals for more than 60 per cent of revenues. So you can see why Overture is keen to open its options by buying AltaVista and co.

And you can see why Yahoo! could be uncomfortable in relying upon a firm which one day may well be a major competitor. In March, The DotComScoop’s Ben Silverman splashed a story that Yahoo! was negotiating to buy Espotting. It still ain’t happened. But such a deal makes sense as Yahoo! is keen to implement its own vertical integration, buying the HotJobs job board and Inktomi search engine technology, among others. ®

Related stories

Yahoo! buys! Inktomi!
Overture buys FAST's web search biz
AltaVista flogged to Overture
Yahoo! wrests HotJobs from Monster.com

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