Microsoft to challenge Google in search market

Microsoft is mounting an attack on Google's dominance of the £1.2bn UK search marketing sector with a multimillion-pound drive to promote its Live search service.

The internet giant is backing its next-generation search engine with its most significant ad campaign to date to challenge Google's 78% share of the search market.

TV ads and press activity posing the question 'Does the world need another search engine?' will be supported by a sponsorship with Virgin Radio that will encourage consumers to try Live Search, which unites web, image and video results on a single page.

The Virgin Radio activity comprises a combination of trails and live reads running across all programmes and a branded microsite introducing consumers to Microsoft Live search. Listeners will also be given the chance to win weekly prizes, including all-expenses-paid holidays, tickets to film premieres and laptop PCs.

The promotion comes as Google rolls out its Universal Search offering, taking results from a much wider resource base than currently used, including online books and local information, as well as images, news and video. The company insists it has no immediate plans to market the service, but has refused to rule out taking on Microsoft in the second half of the year.

Microsoft has put further pressure on Google by agreeing to buy US digital marketing and technology services group aQuantive for $6bn (£3bn). The acquisition will see Microsoft assume control of companies within the aQuantive group, including technology publisher Atlas, ad sales house Drivepm and digital marketing company Avenue A/Razorfish.

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