Netscape has joined forces with Internet search site Excite to develop its own branded search engine.
In a continuing strategy to turn its lead in the browser market into a revenue generating point of entry to the Web, Netscape has enlisted Excite in a two-year partnership to programme a large number of consumer channels for its Netcenter site, in addition to powering its new branded search service. These pages will be co-branded.
Netscape announced last month the plans to expand its Netcenter page as a full scale portal to compete with established sites such as Yahoo.
In the first year of the two-year deal, 25 per cent of the rotating searches will point directly to Excite, and 25 per cent will point to the Excite-powered Netscape engine. In the second year of the agreement, Netscape Search, powered by Excite, will receive at least 50 per cent of user search requests, while Excite's own engine will continue to receive 25 per cent. The other 25 per cent will be divided among additional search providers. Under Netscape's existing contracts with the four main search companies, which expired last month, requests were split evenly on a rotating basis between the four.
The partnership, which does not cover specific search sites for non-US countries yet, is a wide ranging one, with Excite developing Internet content and search services as well as selling advertising through Netcenter, one of the Web?s most heavily trafficked sites.
Excite recognises Netscape?s obvious advantage when attracting the consumer. Evan Rudowski, director of European operations, said he believes the Netscape site is one of the major gateways to the Internet and "the best place on the Web".
Excite paid Netscape an up-front fee of $70 million for the deal and Rudowski was quick to defend the sum, saying it was not "out of whack" with the kind of deals being struck in the US. With the aim of both companies being to generate new revenue through extra traffic, Rudowski said of the partnership: "It is perceived as a $100 million deal for both companies".
Excite has always been keen to strike up deals with the major Internet players, with existing alliances with America Online and Microsoft. Rudowski said; "It has always been our strategy to lock-up significant portals."
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