The Belgian IAB office, to be located near Brussels, will center on promoting Internet marketing to the country's marketers, advertisers, Web site publishers and ad agencies.
The country, currently with a 5% Internet penetration, has the potential to be one of Europe's fastest growing new-media markets thanks to the 90%-plus cable TV penetration.
To help accelerate Belgium's digitalization, the government has launched the Forum 98 campaign, which involves creating large workshops designed to encourage companies to use new media technology. Telecom companies are also planning to offer potential Internet users an annual flat-fee rate to boost subscription.
Industry observers believe the future to faster Internet access might lie with the wider bandwidth available on cable networks. And Belgium's cable operators have announced plans to upgrade existing analog systems to digital.
KTV, a venture run by local cable operator Telenet and U.S. telecommunications group U S West, has started to roll out digital cable lines to about one million homes. Around one million homes are forecast to be linked to the Internet by 2002.
Giovanni Canini, business development manager at Web media specialist Netvision, and Edouard Cambier, alliance director at magazine publishing group Roularta Media, will be handling Belgium's IAB chapter.
They say two-thirds of all PCs in Belgium are less than three years old, indicating a majority of consumer PC owners are using the most recent technology. About 80% of the current local online ads are computer-related and 20% are consumer brands, especially in the financial services sector.
Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.