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Big guns back Net ad association

As the battle for online ad dollars heats up, a group of powerful Internet and print media companies forms to make it easier to place local advertisments on the Net.

As the battle for online ad dollars heats up, a group of powerful Internet and print media companies is forming to make it easier to place local advertisments on the Net.

The Internet Local Advertising & Commerce Association, which will hold its first organizational meeting on March 19, will create uniform standards for Net ads and a "one-stop shop" for companies to place ads on the Net. Billions of dollars are generated from local advertising every year and much of it is up for grabs as new sites, such as regional city directories, enter the market.

Microsoft and Vicinity are the latest companies to join the group's organizing committee. Some 52 participating companies are listed on its Web site, including BigBook, Bell Atlantic, GTE Directories, Times Mirror, Digital City, the Kelsey Group, and R.H. Donnelley.

That's one reason that the association is unique: Its members come from both Internet companies and print media companies.

The ILAC also is the only group to focus solely on the local market, said John Kelsey, president of the Kelsey Group, a consultancy for newspapers interested in expanding to the Net. "There is no animal like this," Kelsey said today.

Competition for local ads will heat up this spring, with the launch of Microsoft's Sidewalk and Digital City's migration to the Web. The New Century Network, a network of newspaper Web sites, also plans to launch a customized Web page to increase online ad sales.

Members will pay between $750 and $6,000 annually to join the non-profit group depending on their size. The fees cover administrative costs.