AOL launches ad sales in Europe

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LONDON -- AOL, the U.S.-based online service provider, is starting to sell ads in Europe, just one year after taking its first step into the region. Already, the company has reeled in Microsoft, modem company U.S. Robotics and online recruitment consultancy Corporate Net as advertisers in the U.K. and camera manufacturer Canon in France. AOL Germany is also selling ads. All its sales houses across Europe are branded Ad On.

Advertisers have the choice of sections on which to feature, including finance, entertainment, sport, technology, kids, games or computing. Banner ads can hotlink to a Web site, or build in more content in AOL's space with interactive message boards, for example, or sponsored chat rooms.

The strength of the proposition is several-fold, says AOL spokeswoman Rachel O'Neill. First, the company guarantees a limited number of advertisers to avoid ad clutter and too much competition. Second, clients can be as creative as they wish as there are not the issues associated with print, for instance, of paper stock or distribution.

And third, marketers can tell from hour to hour how many people have seen their ads, and they know their demographics, "which for an advertiser is a lovely security," says O'Neill. "You can stick up an ad in a field and hope that people see it, but we are actually driving people to it in big buses and saying, 'here it is'".

The medium will be useful for both international brands and, she argues, local brands that can make use of the Digital Cities channel. The U.K. ad sales house will also eventually sell space on the Swedish service just launched. Plans are in the pipeline to expand the service from the German office to Austria and Switzerland too.

AOL began in Europe with the launch in the U.K. in January 1996, followed by France and Germany last November. Currently, AOL's European subscriber base stands at 500,000. Globally, it is eight million.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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