October 3, 2003 4:45 PM PDT

Diller wants Google real estate

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As InterActiveCorp's Barry Diller builds a digital empire of consumer services, he's looking for a little help from online search giant Google.

During this week's Goldman Sachs conference in New York, Diller said InterActiveCorp aims to partner with every major Internet operator for its various services, which include personals site Match.com; the CitySearch family of local guides; travel services Expedia, Hotwire and Hotels.com; and mortgage-referral service LendingTree.

InterActiveCorp already works with Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo to drive traffic to some of these Web properties. But now, it wants help from Google, one of the most popular destinations on the Web for finding information.

"Google and our companies are in continuing conversation about different ways we could maybe join in participation in--local search, things like that," Diller said during a speech at the conference Tuesday.

Diller touched on local search at a time when it's become an intense pocket of interest for all search providers, on both the commercial advertising and technology side. Local search keys results to a user's geographic location. Yahoo, Overture Services and Google have all started testing local search technology in recent weeks in hopes of making query results more relevant to visitors--and for the advertisers looking to reach them. Still, the technology is in development and has yet to be widely deployed.

CitySearch's directory of local city guides is one of the Web's go-to spots for regional information. It specializes in serving up local information on movies, restaurants, events and accommodations.

CitySearch spokesman Eric Jaffe confirmed that InterActiveCorp has talked with Google about partnerships that would give its local guides more exposure in Google search results. For example, when people search for an Italian restaurant in a local area on Google, CitySearch would like to see its regional listings pop up, given that Google fields as many as 200 million searches a day.

Google would not comment on any such talks. To date, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has not aligned with any service or company to augment listings in its search index. Rather, Google focuses on licensing its search technology and advertising service, AdWords, to third parties such as AOL and EarthLink.

Breaking from a trend among Internet operators to license Web or commercial search from Google or its rival, Overture Services, CitySearch opted to build its own advertising-sponsored local search service in June. Jaffe said it has already attracted more than 20,000 advertisers, which bid for placement in localized search results that are related to keywords such as "Vietnamese restaurant."

Jaffe said CitySearch is not just targeting Google. "We have ongoing discussions with every search player about deeper relationships."

 

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