The offering, provided through a deal with Answers.com, allows online readers to get more information about any word in an article by pressing the "alt" key while clicking on that word. A new window then opens that provides either a dictionary or encyclopedia entry about the term. Answers.com's algorithm scans adjacent words for context to find the appropriate search result to return. For instance, the service would return different results for "apple" if the reference is to Apple the company rather than apple the fruit.
NYTimes.com is the first company to license the Answers.com technology, said Robert Formentin, Answers.com's vice president of ad sales. He added that Answers.com is currently in discussions with other major publishers.
The Times built the Answers.com feature into the NYTimes.com Web site, and the pop-up window that provides the information is hosted by the Times, and uses the same font as NYTimes.com--although the window also includes Answers.com branding. The pop-ups also include pay-per-click text link ads powered by Google, but none of that revenue is shared with Answers.com, said Formentin. He added that Answers.com views the deal as purely a traffic generator, but that future deals with other publishers may be structured differently.