Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) may not be buying Bebo, but it's doing a good job of locking up the social network's billable ad space. The two companies announced a multiyear marketing arrangement that would find Yahoo! providing most of the display advertising on Bebo.

For Yahoo!, it's a great catch. Bebo may lag behind stateside social networks like Facebook and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) MySpace, but it's top dog in the United Kingdom. Globally, Bebo delivers 7 billion monthly page views to its more than 34 million registered members.

It also gives Yahoo! a clip culture play outside of its own fledgling video search service. Bebo became the launching pad for Lonelygirl15 spinoff KateModern this summer. It announced last week it would team up with Sony (NYSE:SNE) to promote another online serial, Sofia's Diary.

This all comes months after Yahoo! was rumored to be eyeing Bebo as a takeover target, and this ad deal doesn't necessarily hose down that speculation. If anything, once Yahoo! digs its claws deeper into the revenue-generating power of Bebo, it will be in a better position to make a financially feasible buyout offer.

Following last year's move by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to lock up the ad space on Facebook and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) $900 million three-year ad deal for MySpace, it's only fitting that Yahoo! comes out on top with Bebo. Even as the Web portal giants work on their own social networking initiatives, they're still willing to bet on the top dogs getting stronger.

So eat up, Yahoo!, but don't forget that hungry investors wouldn't mind gnawing on Bebo on the whole if the price is right.

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