Microsoft buys web comparison site Ciao for search strategy

Microsoft plans to integrate e-commerce website Ciao into its search engine to accelerate its search strategy

Microsoft plans to integrate e-commerce website Ciao into its search engine to accelerate its search strategy following failed talks with Yahoo.

Ciao, sold by Greenfield Online for $500 million, is an online shopping site. It provides product reviews and price comparisons. It has over 25 million unique visitors every month.

John Mangelaars, vice-president consumer and online at Microsoft EMEA, said the company is looking for ways of improving its Live Search in Europe following Microsoft's failure to acquire Yahoo.

"Yahoo was a way of accelerating our search strategy. We will find other ways to accelerate it and this is one example," said John Mangelaars.

When users search for a product they will receive the names of suppliers, the most competitive prices and product reviews. Mangelaars said this is one of three principles behind Microsoft's search engine strategy.

The other two pillars are medical information and mapping. Microsoft has already acquired Multimap to provide the mapping information. Microsoft has built Health Vault to offer medical related searches. "These are the most interesting for users and advertisers," said Mangelaars.

He said Microsoft wants to introduce incentives for consumers to use its search engine. "We believe the whole consumer experience and commercial model of search will change," he added.

Rather than the supplier of a product online only paying the search engine provider, the customers will also get a small discount. "Today a lot goes to the search engine but a little could go towards reducing prices.

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