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Online ad start-up snags $57 million in funding

Privately held, formerly known as, receives a round of funding led by media giant Reuters Group., an online ad start-up, said today it has received $57 million from a handful of investors led by media giant Reuters Group., which changed its name from earlier this year, focuses on ad services and products that reach consumers via the Web, email, set-top boxes and wireless devices.

Advertisers consider wireless devices the next big market to target. The financing round comes on the heels of the Wireless Advertising Association's efforts to set online advertising standards in the wireless arena.

A 2-year-old, privately held company, is on the cutting edge of that market. Its AdBroadcast service, for example, delivers ads to wireless phones and pagers with text messaging capabilities. And the company's database technology, AdLearn, analyzes individuals' Web behavior in real time and matches ads to specific Web surfers.

The investment "means we have opportunities to learn more about where the marketplace is heading," said Scott Ferber, CEO of the Baltimore, Md.-based company. "The majority of investors are actual companies that are in the industry, and having them involved means that we have access to understand evolving needs."

Investors in this funding round include America Online, WPP Group, WorldCom Venture Fund, Grotech Capital Group, New Enterprise Associates, Blue Chip Venture Capital, Wheatley Partners, Credit Suisse First Boston Private Equity and Access Technology Partners.

Nancy Bobrowitz, senior vice president of corporate communications at Reuters, said her company's investment money for comes from its Greenhouse fund, which is used to finance technology related to its e-commerce and media projects.

"What we do is use this fund to take a look at the technology...It's kind of a way of outsourcing our (research and development) and a way to help us stay at the forefront of electronic publishing," Bobrowitz said. " is related to our business."

Ferber said plans to use the funding to increase the capacity and size of its infrastructure, expand its research and development efforts, and hire more employees.