Web advertising by mutual fund companies declined markedly by about 70% between December 2001 and January 2002, according to data from Jupiter Media Metrix, a Web research firm based in New York. But the plummet may be more the result of a few giant companies scaling down their Web campaigns than a massive pullback by the industry as a whole. In fact, a number of executives say they continue to see the Web as a compelling, and often cheap, way to round out their advertising strategies.

Jupiter said that advertising on the Internet by firms offering mutual funds and IRAs declined from 89.5 million impressions, or the number of times an ad is viewed on a Web site, in December of 2001 to 27.6 million impressions in January of this year.

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