[Prague] TMP Worldwide's Monster.com is planning simultaneous localized launches in central Europe's three key markets, making the job search site among the first major U.S. Web brands to go live in post-communist Europe.
Monster is hiring local staff in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. TMP may open beta versions of the sites in October at central and eastern Europe's Invex computer fair.
The central European launches are part of a major international expansion under way for Monster that will double its worldwide markets this year. A site in Spain just launched this month and an Italian version is imminent. And sites for Denmark, Finland, India, Japan, Norway and Sweden, as well as undisclosed Latin American countries, are planned by the end of the year.
JOB SITES POPULAR IN EUROPE
TMP will invest $3 million to $4 million in the three central European sites in the first two years. At least one-third of that will be spent on advertising and marketing, said Jacob Leja, Poland's country manager. "Even more than one-half of that amount is not out of the question. Staff costs will likely pale in comparison to marketing costs."
TMP said it expects to begin Monster operations with about 10 employees in each market.
Job-search sites already are among the more popular Internet sites in central and eastern Europe, with scores of local career-oriented sites for job seekers to compete against Monster.
The central Europe launches also may change the way Monster advertises in Europe, from local to more regional media buys. TMP is believed to be seeking one pan-European advertising agency to handle all its European advertising, in addition to its current U.S. pitch.
Monster is reviewing its estimated $75 million to $90 million U.S. account, which has been at Mullen, Wenham, Mass. Last week, Monster named four review finalists: Arnold Communications, Boston; BBDO Worldwide, New York; incumbent Mullen; and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Company executives would not elaborate further on European ad plans, but suggested a media buy on pan-European TV networks, such as CNN International, is in the works.
"With central Europe, now we're really launching across Europe in a strong way," said Sam Saidek, TMP's country manager for Hungary. "We will start advertising campaigns immediately after the launches in central Europe."
European rivals such as Estonia's CV Online, Germany's JobPilot and Scandinavia's Stepstone are all known to be expanding into central Europe's primary markets.
15% IN THE REGION ARE ONLINE
While Internet use in central and eastern Europe has not yet reached Western levels, about 15% of Czechs and Hungarians are online. And despite low levels of credit and debit cards, online purchasing habits are promising.
In the Czech Republic, the twelve largest online retailers reported an average 644% sales increase this year, to $1.2 million, according to Deloitte & Touche.
TMP also is looking to acquire more human resources agencies, particularly in Poland. The Polish office said it may consider buying a local ad agency to handle advertising services for its Monster clients, as it currently outsources all advertising jobs. In Hungary, TMP is buying a local interactive ad agency for its clients.
"It's a lot easier to just buy an ad agency than to pay them for their services," one TMP official said.
In many of its new markets, problems securing domains are causing TMP trouble. In Ireland, a domain dispute forced Monster to launch on monsterireland.ie instead of monster.ie. The dispute was resolved only this month, and it now uses both domains.
In central Europe, problems securing domains, the first major cross-border domain disputes in the region, have also thrown a wrench into TMP's plans. A local Czech competitor started a bidding war with TMP to secure the monster.cz domain after Monster declined to partner or buy out the company, according to TMP. TMP won the domain battle by offering the registrant, a network administrator, a job in addition to a lump sum payment. TMP, which would not disclose the sum paid for the domain, said only that it was a "significant amount for this country."
"We paid for it, and were happy to get it even for such a high amount," said Czech Republic Director Michal Cernich. "It was one of the first steps we took to show our strength in the Czech market."
In Poland, the company secured its domain only after filing a complaint with the country's government domain dispute body. The Scandinavia-based European online recruitment competitor Stepstone had registered the domain. TMP Hungary is still negotiating for the "monster.hu" domain with Muszertechnika Irodatechnika, an office-equipment reseller that appears to have registered the domain on speculation.
Copyright August 2000, Crain Communications Inc.