It was another disappointing quarter for MIVA (NASDAQ:MIVA), the online advertising and e-commerce solutions provider. The company posted a loss of $0.15 a share, with revenues dipping by 27% to $43 million for its final quarter of 2005. And it's not good when your operating expenses climb by 23% in a period when your top line is tanking.

MIVA, formerly known as, is in a transitory phase. It's cleaning up the quality of traffic on its network as it focuses on global opportunities, and it's trying to move beyond search. It points to a study that was released earlier this year, showing how Internet users spend just 5% of their time on search engines such as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT)

That may be true, but that time is also when Internet users are the most receptive to online advertising. They are on a search engine to find something, after all. Let's hope that MIVA never forgets that.

The company generated 219 million paid clickthroughs during the quarter. That's a 13% reduction from what it produced a year earlier, despite growing its base of advertisers by 20%. This isn't a mixed bag -- it's just bad. Revenues falling faster than clicks means that the company is generating less money per click.

MIVA understands its unattractive situation. It's looking to shave its overhead through things like real estate moves and outsourcing software development. It had better. MIVA closed out the year with its once-attractive cash balance clocking in 29% lower.

I'm not writing off MIVA just yet, even though the company is expecting to post a meager deficit in the current quarter. It offers a compelling play into the European online advertising market, which has more upside potential than the more developed domestic market. It is also taking a sensible approach to increasing its users' loyalty by building out its toolbar business.

The company has serious challenges, and the low share price reflects that. The clock is ticking as the cash burns, though even at last year's fiery pace, MIVA would still have enough greenbacks to last another two years before turning itself around.

Let's check back in a few months to note the sequential improvement. A turnaround has to start somewhere.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still believes in the paid-search sector. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.