Yahoo needs people to use its search engine so badly that it's willing to reward them for doing so.
The company is now running search for Swagbucks, a popular coupon and rewards service that gives people virtual currency for searching the Web, watching videos and playing games on its site. Prior to Monday, when the "powered by Yahoo" message began showing up on search results pages for Swagbucks, the company was using the white label service InfoSpace to manage search.
"Our new search engine will be powered by Yahoo! and will be available to all of our U.S. members beginning on Monday, August 11th," Swagbucks wrote Monday in a blog post. The company called it the "biggest change we've made to our search since its launch."
And in an email to members, Swagbucks presents the purple Yahoo logo and says "the journey toward free gift cards begins with performance of a single search."
As Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer bulks up spending on acquisitions and pushes the Web portal deeper into areas like news, the company's already struggling search business continues losing market share. Yahoo's share of U.S. search fell to 10.1 percent in March from 11.8 percent a year earlier, while Google's increased to 67.5 percent from 67.1 percent and Microsoft's rose to 18.6 percent from 16.9 percent, according to comScore.
Partnering with Swagbucks is the latest sign that, despite its challenges, Yahoo has no intentions of abandoning search. It can't afford to. The business accounts for about 40 percent of Yahoo's revenue, and it's one of the four main products—along with communications, digital magazines and video—that comprise the company's current strategy. Any momentum Yahoo has built in search of late is on mobile, where sales more than doubled in the second quarter.