Bloomberg Scoop on Twitter’s Search Engine Payday

We finally know how much Twitter got paid by Google and Microsoft’s Bing to index its content: $25 million.

Bloomberg gets the scoop this morning on the number, though it’s not totally clear how much the deal is worth. From what I can tell from the story, which isn’t worded perfectly, Twitter got a one-time payment of $25 million for the “multiyear agreements, enough, Bloomberg reports, to send Twitter into the black for 2009. Google alone is paying it $15 million.

The interest here is it sets a precedent for content providers like news publishers to seek their own deals with the search engines, which use snippets of content to link to stories. Such a move wouldn’t solve the media’s financial problems—not by a long shot—but it couldn’t hurt to wring a few coins out of Larry and Sergey (and Bill).

The bigger question is raised by Rupert Murdoch’s talks with Bing about going exclusive with it by blocking News Corp. content from Google’s search engine. What would that be worth to Microsoft? Probably not a whole lot by itself, but if Microsoft could negotiate exclusive deals with a critical mass of news and other content publishers, it could be intriguing.

After all, as we’ve noted, walking away from Google wouldn’t exactly put a dent in News Corp.’s earnings. And Google wouldn’t like to be left with the “cesspool” of search, as its CEO has called it, while Bing could advertise a real advantage to its search results.

Twenty-five million bucks isn’t a huge amount in the big picture, but it does show that indexing content is worth real money.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.