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Microsoft corp. in the first quarter of this year ran 1,080 pages of advertising in U.S. business and computer publications, according to the page counters at ad tracking company Adscope.

Netscape Communications' print ad schedule during the same period? One page.

Belatedly, Netscape has seen the error of its ways. The company is launching a multimillion-dollar, five-month, business-targeted print campaign to promote its software. And it plans what could become a multimillion-dollar consumer print and radio campaign pitching its zippy new Web site, Netcenter.

Netscape isn't giving up on Web marketing -- nor should it. Netscape pioneered use of the Internet to distribute its products, advertise and build a brand. It traded space on its site to get space and ads on search sites worth $35 million over the next year. Netscape is smart to use its own medium.

But to sustain and grow a new-media brand, a marketer still needs a strong dose of traditional media. The number of people that use, buy or influence the purchase of Internet products and services is exploding. "Old" media reach top business executives who aren't on the Web but who influence what technology their companies buy. Those media can help create that important buzz with consumers -- reinforcing messages carried on the Web.

Netscape could have -- and should have -- made use of traditional mass media long ago, before it lost its domination of the browser market. This marketer still has a great name and 70 million users, but it's no slight to new media to say that traditional ads can help shape Netscape's future prospects.

Netscape's conclusion that it needs the broad impact of traditional media to tell its story is further evidence new-media companies know they need to look beyond Web advertising. Microsoft, Yahoo! and already invest in traditional media because they work -- just as newspapers, magazines and TV have rushed to get their brand names on the Web. Being tardy in learning that lesson may be costly for Netscape, but it's better than not having learned it at all.

Tobacco sense

The big federal tobacco control bill pending in Congress is loaded with controversy, including provisions to coerce or cajole tobacco marketers into giving up some of their First Amendment advertising rights in hopes this will curtail teen smoking. Whether any of it becomes law soon was still anyone's guess as this was written. But at that same time Washington looked to do something more concrete about teen smoking -- and without venturing into censorship of truthful ads.

The government is putting more effort behind implementing a 1992 law to stop the flow of tobacco products to teens at retail. It requires the feds to work with the states and localities to toughen often laughably lax enforcement of laws that make it illegal to sell tobacco to young people. And it's even putting an ad budget behind the program: $20 million to $30 million through the Food & Drug Administration in the year starting Oct. 1, more than double the $7 million to $10 million available this year. Arnold Communications, Boston, has produced outdoor, print, radio and point-of-purchase advertising to remind retailers they must demand ID from tobacco purchasers who don't appear to be at least 27, and to warn teens they'll be carded if they try to buy smokes.

Distribution restraints such as this, and curbs on vending machine sales, make sense and will put an immediate dent in teen smoking rates -- without bending the First Amendment to do it.

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