MSN search sites serve up eBay links

Microsoft's MSN network said Thursday that it is further strengthening its ties with eBay by placing direct links to the auction site on its search pages.

Users performing searches on MSN's home page, MSN Search, MSN Shopping and MSN Auction will soon see links to eBay for items related to their search popping up along with the search results. The partnership expands on a joint marketing and e-commerce agreement forged by the companies in March 2001.

In addition, the companies said that they plan to further integrate eBay auction alerts delivered over Microsoft's .Net Alerts platform later this year. The service already delivers "outbid" and "auction ending" alert notifications to eBay users.

Microsoft said that shopping is one of the most popular online activities on its sites, and that eBay is consistently one of the top five search queries users perform on MSN Search.

By further integrating the auction site into its network, MSN is hoping to both expand its e-commerce services and drive up use of its search properties by banking on the popularity of online auctions. Despite the dotcom bust, eBay has managed to become one of the most successful online properties. During the first quarter of this year, for example, the auction giant doubled its profit over the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has made a concerted effort recently to bolster its search offerings, ramping up investments in the area and more than doubling its search team staff.

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