U.S. companies look to expand ad sales overseas

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U.S. online media and ad sales companies are expanding internationally -- when they can find someone with whom to do a deal.

Following DoubleClick and 24/7 Media, Engage entered Asia by snapping up the region's remaining major independent online media network, Hong Kong-based Media Ltd., at the end of August.

In the U.S., dozens of companies compete in the online-media marketplace. But OneMediaPlace, the first to make an international move, has found few counterparts outside the U.S. so far.

Earlier this month, OneMediaPlace announced an alliance with iMediapoint, a company that embarked in the U.K. in January to buy and sell media on the Internet. U.K. competitors include optimad.com and ADazzle, in which Tempus Group owns a 15% stake.

"The U.S. is roughly two years ahead of the U.K.," said Jean-Louis Velaise, a former European TV executive who is iMediapoint's CEO. "And the U.K. is a year ahead of continental Europe. We have to adapt our models country by country."


In major markets such as France and Germany, Mr. Velaise said he expects to find partners before yearend. Elsewhere he is looking at forming alliances with ad agencies or groups of media owners because businesses like his don't yet exist.

Connie Pettit, OneMediaPlace's senior VP-international and print, said the non-equity alliance with iMediapoint will develop into a European holding company. Meanwhile, she is looking at Asia, Australia and India.

"It's a matter of when we can identify people with content where we bring the technology, the brand and the experience," Ms. Pettit said.

In Asia, CMGI-controlled Engage's deal to purchase Space Asia Media (www.spaceasia.com) in an all-stock transaction adds operations in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand that manage and serve 140 million ad impressions a month for more than 270 publishers. Before adding Asia, Engage represented 4,300 Web publishers in North America, Europe and Australia, as well as Latin American clients handled from the U.S.

"We have been looking at opportunities in Asia for some time, and feel that the acquisition of Space is the most effective way to help us leverage our expertise, technologies and data throughout this market," said Engage President-CEO Paul Schaut.


Mr. Schaut had few alternatives. DoubleClick and 24/7 Media had already linked with competitors of Space. In December 1998, 24/7 Media joined forces with chinadotcom Corp. Last October, Asiacontent.com formed a joint venture with DoubleClick, making it tougher for Space to go it alone.

"The Internet is a global medium, so the best move for our clients was to go global. We cover Asia. Engage covers the rest of the world, so the deal made sense," said Ross Hughes, Space's marketing and communication manager.

Space was founded in January 1998, with CEO Colin McIntosh and Chief Media Officer Matt Harty building a strong network with clients such as Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily, Asiastockwatch, Myrice.com, the Internet arm of the South China Morning Post (scmp.com) and ZDNet Asia. Mr. McIntosh is president of Engage Asia.

Space and Engage got to know each other during the past year in a "media-sharing relationship, representing each other's sites and sharing traffic information," Mr. Hughes said. Space would "track the eyeballs of a Web surfer in Toronto visiting the Web site of Apple Daily, just as Engage would track Asian surfers on European sites for us," he said.

For Engage, the deal "also gives us the ability to hit the ground running with a local team that has specific experience in Asian media programs to bring the entire Engage model to the region relatively quickly," Mr. Schaut said.

Steve Moss, CEO of DoubleClick Asia, sees the acquisition as a sign of the times. "IPOs are not an alternative now," he said, "so acquisitions and mergers are a more viable alternative for many."

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