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With online newspaper network New Century Network out of business, clients are taking their advertising elsewhere.

NCN shut down last week after its nine partners decided they could no longer agree on a strategy going forward.

Now, its advertisers are scrambling to find other outlets for their business.


For example, Schering Plough Corp.'s Claritin brand had signed a contract March 6 to do an extensive weather sponsorship on NCN. Now the sponsorship will be placed on the Rain or Shine site ( developed by Journal Square Interactive and AccuWeather, said Tom Bates, formerly NCN's director of advertising.

Mr. Bates said NCN is trying to help its advertisers find homes for their campaigns, such as with NCN's former software, ad serving and creative partner Real Media.

Dave Morgan, president of Real Media, said so far his company has picked up assignments from NCN advertisers including Ameritech, Internet service provider Epoch and Insurance Web. The company is also in talks with Ogilvy & Mather about IBM Corp., which had recently decided to begin an NCN campaign, he said.

Mr. Morgan said his company plans to move rapidly to fill the void left by NCN, especially in banner sales, and by focusing on newspapers.


"We are going to take an aggressive position and beef up our sales and marketing team," he said. "We'll probably focus on the top markets; probably the top 20 DMAs. NCN was stretched down through 140 sites, but I don't think national advertisers are ready for that yet."

Last week, Real Media struck a deal with Knight-Ridder New Media's Real Cities to expand the city network into the top-20 U.S. markets with exclusive representation. Mr. Morgan said he will probably hire some of the 40 NCN employees who lost their jobs in the closure.


The publishers -- Advance Publications, Cox Newspapers, Gannett Co., Hearst Corp., Knight-Ridder, The New York Times Co., Times Mirror Co., Tribune Co. and Washington Post Co. -- have all developed their own Internet advertising initiatives since the original partnership was created in 1995.

Beyond its partners' problems in formulating a comprehensive strategy, NCN may have devoted too many resources to developing original content. That effort was dropped in February.

However, the network forged new ground for online media. It raised awareness about newspapers and advertising on the Internet. It also taught a lesson about the difficulties of joining nine of the largest newspaper publishing companies in an equal partnership, said executives involved with the consortium.

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