updated 3/1/2005 3:51:25 PM ET 2005-03-01T20:51:25

Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. said Tuesday that it is stamping its well-known brand on Overture Services, an online advertising pioneer that it bought for $1.7 billion nearly 17 months ago.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo said it is renaming Overture as Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions in the United States and most international markets. The change, to be made early in the second quarter, is part of an overhaul designed to make it easier to find Yahoo’s different advertising options.

Yahoo plans to retain Overture’s name in Japan and Korea.

Although its brand has never been conspicuous, Pasadena-based Overture became one of the Internet’s most important companies by developing an advertising system that has turned online search engines into moneymaking machines.

The name change won’t affect how Overture’s popular service works. The system auctions off the right to have text-based advertising links displayed after specific words are entered into a search engine’s query box. The approach has become a powerful sales magnet, prompting advertisers to spend an estimated $3.8 billion on search engine marketing last year.

Overture’s popularity helped boost Yahoo’s 2004 sales to $3.6 billion last year, more than doubling the company’s revenue from the previous year.

Online search engine leader Google Inc. also gave Yahoo 2.7 million shares of its high-flying stock to settle allegations that Google had illegally copied Overture’s patented system for selling search engine ads. The Google shares are worth about $500 million.

The Overture brand was conceived in 2001 as a replacement for the company’s original name — GoTo.com

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