Making the Wrong Impression

How sites with dubious content are attracting ads from blue-chip brands

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What do Jaguar, Fiat, Jeep, Sheraton and Hewlett-Packard have in common? What about Westin Hotels, Citibank and JetBlue? Not only are they blue-chip, discerning brands, they're also heavy advertisers on sites like driverswhoknow.com, fundwiser.com, celebritynewsstories.com and mommymixing.com, all properties of company called AlphaBird.

“We’re an audience company,” said CEO Chase Norlin. “We’re paid to acquire audiences on the Web. We look more like a search company. We’re really good at buying SEM traffic.”

It turns out, AlphaBird is also getting into the content business—and if you've never heard of these sites, neither have most media buyers.

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