It's time for a little mutual back-scratching.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and EDGAR Online (Nasdaq: EDGR) are teaming up in a deal that will populate EDGAR's stock research site exclusively with third-party ads sold by Microsoft. As part of the deal, Microsoft's MSN Money portal will use EDGAR's document retrieval service as its provider of SEC financial filings, a service currently provided by Thomson (NYSE: TOC).

It's a good move for both parties. Microsoft's paid search efforts are a distant third behind market leader Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO). The company doesn't have an open platform for small and medium publishers to compete with Google's AdSense and Yahoo!'s YPN.

However, Microsoft has been aggressive in landing large publishers like Facebook and now EDGAR as ad distributing partners. These deals are important as a way to attract new sponsors and provide multiple outlets for serving contextual ads.

The deal is even bigger for EDGAR. Shares were trading more than 5% higher on the news, as EDGAR investors were relieved to finally get some good news out of the company. The company's CFO resigned earlier this month, and EDGAR's financials haven't been much to file home about.

Through the first nine months of 2007, revenues have inched 8% higher to $13.1 million. The company posted a loss in that time, though it did manage to break even on an adjusted EBITDA basis during the third quarter.

Serving SEC filings through MSN Money won't move the needle much. EDGAR is already providing SEC filings for financial portals like Yahoo!, Google, and Forbes. The real moneymaker here should be the more effective monetization of EDGAR's site through Microsoft's paid search ads.

It won't take much in terms of incremental success to help out a company as small as EDGAR. Small websites like Answers.com (Nasdaq: ANSW) and IncrediMail (Nasdaq: MAIL) have practically reinvented their models around third-party ad networks. It has become such a model-altering event that IncrediMail's stock shed nearly 30% of its value on Friday when it revealed that it had been dismissed from Google's ad-serving program.

Obviously, we won't know what kind of impact the deal will have until we see a full quarter of EDGAR implementing the Microsoft ads. If it turns a slow-growing dot-com upstart into a speedster -- and encourages the wider promotion of freely available, ad-subsidized market resources on the site itself -- EDGAR may finally be a growth stock after all. Now that would be a back worth scratching.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't on Microsoft's buy list. It's a pity, because he's a cheap date. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.