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New service pays users to view ads

A new service pays users to look at ads on the Web and evaluate them.

As Web sites scramble for advertising revenue and advertisers apply increasing pressure to make sure those ads are working for them, a new service has come up with a way to get attention: bribing users into looking at Web site ads.

CyberGold, to be introduced today, will offer to pay its members just for paying attention to online advertisements. Once a member is signed up, all they have to do is respond to interactive sales pitches that have been geared toward specific demographic groups and in return get credits, or "CyberGold," that can be traded for online time, subscriptions, or merchandise. The company says it is a Web-based translation of the old sales concept of "I'll buy you lunch if you listen to my pitch."

CyberGold is the brainchild of software entrepreneur and now CyberGold chairman and CEO Nat Goldhaber, former head of the Apple/IBM-partnered Kaleida Labs. Advertising maven Jay Chiat and marketing guru Regis McKenna sit on the company's board.

Users don't earn credits if they don't read and interact with the ads, but exposure to them is voluntary. Company officials say they plan to beta test the system this summer and launch the service in the third quarter of this year.

The service is being introduced as advertisers are spending an increasing amount of their budgets on Web sites, and are correspondingly showing more interest in measuring the effectiveness of their Web ads.

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