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Web Advertisers Employing New Tools

NEW YORK (AP) _ Visit the gaming portal IGN.com or the computing news site BetaNews, and you might find some Web links in green instead of blue. As you move your mouse over them, ads pop up.

IGN and BetaNews are among about 200 sites using Vibrant Media Inc.'s new technology for targeting advertisements.

Its IntelliTXT service scans Web pages for keywords and highlights certain words, such as ``SUV'' or ``Toyota.'' Point to the word, and a rectangular box with a text ad floats over the page, much like dialogue balloons in comic strips.

``We can pull out three, four, five different concepts from an article and find relevant advertisers,'' said Doug Stevenson, Vibrant Media's co-founder and chief executive.

Ads are similar to those found at search sites, except they blend into the page rather than appear on the side. Vibrant Media gets most of its ads from Yahoo! Inc.'s Overture Services.

Sree Sreenivasan, a new media professor at Columbia University, worries that the practice further blurs the line between advertising and editorial content, but he's not surprised advertisers are trying.

IntelliTXT's ads are clearly marked as ``sponsored links'' in response to requests from Web site owners, Stevenson said. He also stressed that words are double underlined in green to distinguish them from regular links, which are generally single underlined in blue.

Stevenson also said sites are discouraged from mixing ads with breaking news stories, though that is primarily to avoid gaffes that may result in travel ads linked with a story, say, on an airplane crash.

Vibrant Media, based in San Francisco, began offering the technology for general use two months ago after a year of testing with technology, finance and auto sites.

The company said sites now using IntelliTXT include The Motley Fool, The Auto Channel, Experts-Exchange.com and Computing.Net.

Vibrant Media shares ad revenues with the Web sites.
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