German Start-ups Begin to Flood the Web

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WIESBADEN, Germany - New Internet companies are flooding Germany as the industry revs up for major growth and seeks European leadership against tough UK competition and a surging French industry.


Much of the drive was put on exhibition at last month's DIMA, the annual German direct marketing show, that clearly demonstrated overriding German interest in getting on the Internet train before it is too late.


Even traditional companies are moving online or setting up Web-based subsidiaries. Thus Ebner Ulm, a 100 million Deutschmark (about $60 million) printing concern founded in 1817, just put a new information medium on the Web.


The technology is Canadian, but it's new for Germany and provides a link to the print business. "Infoflip" opens instant links to information business surfers need in 16 seconds, Ebner said.


The company has also launched a Web-based subsidiary called e.com whose call center caters to the outsourcing needs of mail order houses and computer dealers, and which handles online orders for merchants.


DoubleClick, which launched a start-up here 15 months ago, is already something of a veteran as newcomers crowd cyberspace and compete for publicity and attention.


Novaville AG of Berlin started free Internet access for members of DJH, the German youth hostel movement. Long-term members of DJH are given 10 hours free access as a "loyalty premium." In addition, the year-old start-up has put software on the market called "personal ad" which the company claims can put personalized advertising on the Net which the advertiser controls directly and which allows regional targeting.


"Personal ad," said CEO Dr. Thomas Simmons, "affords clients the kind of advertising efficiency that has simply not been available on the German market." Nor will it draw clients away from banner ads but increase the advertising stream into the Web, he said. Simmons, an American who holds a PhD in physics, expects his company to reach critical mass some time next year when he predicts the number of users will pass 100,000.


Friendlyway.com has developed an Internet device for supermarkets. All you need do, the Munich-based company explained, is put a bottle of wine at the scanner and a message on screen will advise the cheese that goes best with it.


Werbung im netz/admaster, a Munich-based online banner sale agency with a portfolio of 250 Web sites, last month introduced www.addore.de, an auction platform for last minute banner placement.


CEO Michael Gebert demonstrated the platform at the DIMA show. He told the German "new media report" magazine that auctioning banners is a new concept in Germany and "over time" media planners will learn how to use it and be comfortable with the concept, Gebert told the magazine.


Dialog Links Interactive is a small new interactive agency that used the show to demonstrate its wares and talents.


On Oct. 1 the 1&1 Group spun off its Online Dialog subsidiary and renamed it AdLINK Internet Media. The new company showed up at the DIMA with a new strategic ally, Schober, one of Germany's leading list companies.


"Business targeting allows online advertisers to talk directly to carefully selected target audiences with a minimum of customer losses," CEO Michael Keindl told a DIMA seminar, and is made possible by Schober's large selected of Internet addresses.


On Nov. 19 the company purchased of a 26 percent stake in Only Solutions, a German company specializing in digital picture content analysis. CEO Ralph Dommermuth announced plans for taking stakes in other Internet startups over the next 12 months.
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