Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s AOL are bidding to provide search technology and manage online advertising for Comcast Corp.’s Web site, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Comcast.net, which received almost 17 million unique visitors in February, currently uses Google’s search engine service, but the three-year contract expires at the end of 2007. The site has only experimented with advertising in the past.
The site is among Google’s biggest individual sources of search queries, from which it generates search advertising revenue. Google is expected to pay Comcast around $70 million this year under its existing contract, although that could top $100 million, the source said.
Comcast will expect whoever wins its advertising contract to be able to handle its growing online video advertising inventory, including The Fan, which is its collection of entertainment clips. It has also launched new video sites, including Ziddio, which allows users to upload their own videos and Fearnet, a horror TV channel and video Web site.
I’ve seen this billed in some accounts as a rebuff to Google, but it’s rather a simple business decision to try to get the best price. Wouldn’t you?