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AOL TW unites its Web sites

Move marks first big branding effort for unit

Let the synergy begin: AOL Time Warner said Tuesday it will link all of the conglom’s Web sites using a Netscape-branded tool bar that lets Netizens access functions such as instant messaging, email and online searches.

The Netscape toolbar has already been planted on film and television sites for Warner Bros. and magazines Time, Money and People, among others.

Move marks the first major branding effort for Netscape since AOL acquired the company in late 1998. Since then, Netscape has stagnated, losing its once-dominant position as the most popular Web browser to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Netscape has since shifted browser development to AOL Technology, and is now focused on Netscape.com and its small-business site, Netbusiness.

But the new effort by the merged Internet service provider and media conglom should put the Netscape moniker back in front of millions of Netizens. According to Media Metrix, AOL and its Web sites attracted 64 million visitors in January, while Time Warner’s online properties attracted 17 million monthly visitors during that time.

“This new initiative clearly positions Netscape as an important cross-promotional engine for the AOL Time Warner network of Web properties,” said Netscape prexy Jim Bankoff. “By making some of our most popular offerings available across the company’s content sites, we’re making sure consumers are just a click away, no matter which content site they are on, and extending AOL Time Warner’s value even further.”

Previously, visitors to AOL or Time Warner’s Web sites had to leave a site to access their email accounts or instant message other Netizens. AOL Time Warner will also attempt to beef up Netscape.com by including editorial content from all of Time Warner’s magazines and TV ventures, including Time and CNN.

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