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AOL Renews Search Partnership With Google

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AOL has renewed its search partnership with Google, inking a five-year extension to outsource its search platform to the Web giant through 2015.

Long-struggling Internet pioneer AOL (NYSE: AOL) is billing the search accord as the latest phase of an ongoing effort to revive its fortunes, reminding search advertisers that its portal remains an essential component of the marketing mix.

“Today is another important step in the turnaround of AOL,” CEO Tim Armstrong said in a statement announcing the agreement. “AOL users will be getting a better search and search ads experience from the best search company in the world — Google.”

Through the partnership, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) will provide the search and advertising technology, including new ad formats, underlying the search engine on AOL’s network of sites. With 2.3 percent of the market, AOL is the fifth most popular search engine among U.S. Web users, according to the most recent data from online metrics firm comScore.

The renewed partnership comes amid a more seismic realignment in the search industry, as Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) is in the process of turning over its search and advertising operations to Microsoft(NASDAQ: MSFT) in an alliance that aims to pose a credible competitive challenge to Google.

In July, Google performed 65.8 percent of U.S. searches, compared to Yahoo’s 17.1 percent share and Microsoft’s 11 percent. IAC’s ranked No. 4, with 3.8 percent of the market.

Google has provided AOL’s search technology for nearly a decade, and with the renewed partnership the companies are deepening their ties in other lines of business.

For the first time, Google will provide a mobile search platform for AOL, which has been redoubling its focus on the mobile Web with an array of new apps and optimized websites.

Additionally, Google has agreed to a content partnership that will give AOL’s video offerings a dedicated home on YouTube, the world’s leading video website.

“All aspects of our partnership will be improved by this deal,” said Armstrong, who previously held the position of Google’s top sales executive in North America before leaving to guide AOL through its separation from Time Warner and initial public offering.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was similarly enthusiastic, explaining that the partnership played to each company’s strengths, with Google handling the search and advertising technology, leaving AOL free to focus on its content network.

“It’s particularly exciting to see our relationship expand into video and mobile,” Schmidt said. “These areas are now at the heart of users’ online experiences and at the core of both of our businesses.”

AOL and Google’s previous search agreementhad been scheduled to expire in December.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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