PR Pulse: Parlez-vous search engine?

By now, every Net surfer knows that American companies Google and Yahoo! dominate the search engine industry. But the French insist (as the French often do) that

they can do the same thing better: French President Jacques Chirac announced plans earlier this month for a European-based multimedia search engine that will become the market

leader. The project, dubbed 'Quaero' (that is Latin for 'to search'), is currently being created by a consortium of French high-tech developers with help from the German media

giant Bertelsmann. While President Chirac is promoting Quaero as an example of Euro-pride, there might be more than a few Euros in his vision for the new search engine.

On this side of the Atlantic, there's plenty of money in search engine paid placement: $4.7 billion, to be precise. That's the amount that American and Canadian advertisers spent

last year to ensure their Web sites got priority listing on search engines, according to the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization. You can't blame Chirac for

wanting that slice of the search engine pie.