Amazon.com's under-developed "Travel" section will become more content-rich early next year. Travel search engine SideStep has struck a deal to power a co-branded site in Amazon's travel store.

The agreement gives SideStep's travel and hospitality advertisers a dramatic boost in distribution. In SideStep's model, partners pay the company on a cost-per-acquisition basis when someone the search engine refers books travel. The company also offers advertising opportunities on its engine and in e-mail newsletters, but couldn't say whether those ads would appear on the Amazon.com site.

"I think they [advertisers] are going to be thrilled. This gives them so much reach," said Phil Carpenter, vice president of corporate marketing at SideStep, noting advertisers hadn't yet been briefed on the hush-hush deal. "If you look at travel providers...they are just rooting for us to succeed. They want to see the oligopoly [of online travel agencies] diversified."

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