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IQ News: bits

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-Blackboard.com, a Washington, D.C.-based education portal, named Stein Rogan +Partners, New York, as its agency of record for branding and Beyond Interactive, Ann Arbor, Mich., as its agency of record for online media planning and buying. The firms pitched the work together.

-Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft last week incorporated popularity-based search engine Direct Hit into MSN Search on MSN.COM. Wellesley, Mass.-based Direct Hit provides the most popular search results by analyzing previous Web search topics. Direct Hit currently has partnerships with search sites HotBot, Lycos and Looksmart.

-Following its merger two weeks ago with Think New Ideas, New York, AnswerThink Consulting Group, Miami, has acquired CFT Consulting, Sarasota, Fla., for $14.8 million in cash and AnswerThink stock. CFT, an e-business firm, focuses on retail clients, including Neiman Marcus, T.J. Maxx, Brookstone and J.Crew.

-Office supply retailer Staples, Framingham, Mass., named i-traffic, New York, as its online advertising and direct marketing agency for Staples.com, the company's e-commerce business unit. I-traffic will manage online media planning and buying and online creative development for Staples.com.

-DVCI Technologies, the interactive arm of Dugan Valva Contess, Morristown, N.J., is developing the official Web site for Times Square 2000. CKS/US Web, Cupertino, Calif., previously had the assignment.

-San Francisco-based news and lifestyle e-'zine Salon.com and New York-based arts information and ticketing site CultureFinder.com will share editorial content and combine ticketing and advertising efforts, plus develop co-branded arts information and directory services expected to launch this summer at culturefinder.salon.com.

-Superportal Yahoo!, Santa Clara, Calif., joined forces with Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., to provide access to B of A account information to the desktops of Yahoo! Finance and My Yahoo! users in California. Online bankers can check stock quotes and access personalized content from their PCs.