I was reading a story from Google News: Spitzer Swearing-In Ushers in New Era in New York Politics, and I noticed two words double-underlined in green. Hovering over them activated a pop-up window which allowed me to search the web for the term via Windows Live. It was both obtrusive (double-underlining a word makes it a blot on the page) and silly (the two terms underlined were far too generic to be interesting searches: Republican and Governor). Oh well, I chalk it up to a bone-headed site, and move on.
The very next story I read, The Controversy over Microsoft’s Gifts to Bloggers, was on a different site, but had the exact same double-underlined text. This time, there were seven words blotted, and the pop-up window clearly identifies itself as an ad. Now I have to look into it.
The boxes are branded as IntelliTXT, and have a little question mark button. Clicking it takes you to a page explaining their “ad unit” technology. Of course, before it explains anything, it helpfully (NOT!) resizes your browser window. Interestingly, depending on how you got to the page, it offers a link to disable IntelliTXT. From Fox News, the page has the link (and clicking it does turn off the double-underlining). From the Playfuls page, there is no disable link.
Ads just are, I guess, and at least for some sites, IntelliTXT can be disabled. Judging from the two instances I saw, though, I don’t think it will be around for long. It’s too distracting, and not very useful, even to the advertisers.
Update: Just by coincidence, I sighted IntelliTXT on a third page: What if they Released a Movie and Nobody Came? Or maybe these green double-underlines will start appearing everywhere?