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Ad spending for the first quarter of 1998 reached $194.6 million, according to a report issued today by InterMedia Advertising Solutions, New York, a subsidiary of Competitive Media Reporting.

Spending was up 92% over the first quarter of '97. Computers and software, a category that includes online services, composed nearly half of all Internet spending (49.7%) with $96.7 million. Growth in this area was slow, though, (75.7%) compared to other categories. Online ad spending rose in: medicines (409%), local services and amusements (224%), direct-response companies (251%) and automotive (129%).

Bertelsmann takes 50% stake in Barnes & Noble site

Bertelsmann AG agreed to buy a 50% stake in Barnes & Noble's Web subsidiary barnesandnoble.com. Bertelsmann and Barnes & Noble will each invest $100 million in the online bookstore. Both parties said to expect an initial public offering for barnesandnoble.com later this year. Even so, Bertelsmann said it plans to go forward with its retail site, Books Online.

Lycos to buy Wired Digital in $83 mil stock exchange

Lycos agreed to buy Wired Digital, San Francisco, which owns competing search engine HotBot and online content sites such as Wired News.

Lycos will exchange $83 million in stock for Wired, plus additional stock to cover Wired's outstanding expenses when the deal closes, which is set for yearend pending shareholder approval.

Portals launch privacy advertising campaign

Eight portal sites showed their commitment to privacy at last week's Internet World exhibition in New York with an online ad campaign called Privacy Partnership. America Online, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, Microsoft Corp., Netscape Communications Corp., CNET's Snap! and Yahoo! are working with non-profit privacy group TrustE to spread the word about the importance of protecting personal data online. An ad campaign, using a combined 150 million impressions valued at about $3 million, breaks today and runs through Oct. 31.

In other news

Infoseek Corp. today launches an insurance center on its site with areas covering life and health, homeowners and renters, and auto insurance. Sponsors include InsWeb and Lincoln Benefit Life, a division of Allstate Life Group. Four Points Digital, Chicago, worked with Infoseek to develop the site on behalf of its client, Lincoln Benefit. . . . Excite named John Kelly, formerly VP-ad sales at Arts & Entertainment cable network, VP-national sales manager, based in New York. Joe Parke, formerly senior marketing executive at Imperial Marketing, Detroit, was named regional sales manager based in Excite's new Detroit office. . . . Charles Schwab & Co. will use software provider Neuromedia's NeuroServer to add instant-answer capability to its Internet site and develop an in-house tutorial about the company's computer system.


* In "Exclusive Internet advertising deals' strategy questioned" (AA, Sept. 26) United Parcel Service of America is the exclusive delivery service on Inktomi search results pages within Yahoo!, which provides a directory of Web results.

* Also, an incorrect photo ran with "Pushing too hard may doom rich media," (AA, Oct. 5) a viewpoint by Tom Dugan, president of NewGate Internet, Sausalito, Calif.

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