Engage to Expand Online Offerings in Japan

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ANDOVER, MA -- Engage took majority control of its Japanese operation last month from joint venture partner Sumitomo to introduce new services in Japan.

"While we had a partnership in Japan, it didn't incorporate AdKnowledge, Engage Media, Engage Business Media, and our measurement and analytics services like I/PRO Netline and I/PRO Audit," said John Federman, executive vice president of worldwide sales at Engage.

"By taking majority ownership, we will be able to localize all our offerings, not just the site solutions. Engage is a combination of Internet advertising networks for both consumers and [business-to-business]," he said.

"It is also analytics in terms of evaluating clickstreams and making informed marketing and advertising decisions as a result of that data. It is [hardware] and software that allows you to deliver ads as well as create profiles on who is visiting a given site."

The most important challenge the company faces, Federman said, "is to understand the different competitive climates we face and to understand where the opportunities offered by market voids among competitors are.

"In Japan, our most immediate opportunity resides with ad serving as well as with our analytic offerings. Engage Media is a strong component of what we do, but in Japan we will most likely lead with analytics and technology."

Engage clients in Japan are both advertising agencies and advertisers "looking to impact their most important prospects by using the Internet," he said.

Customers are drawn to Engage by the company's reputation, but "we also have an aggressive sales effort directed at both agencies and marketers, and we are active in site acquisition," Federman said.

Major competitors on the Japanese market, he added, are three Japanese firms -- CCI, DAC and Sider Agent -- and DoubleClick. "I wouldn't put 24/7 [Media] at the top of our list of competitors," he said.

But he stressed that Engage considers every competitor formidable, "because the market is so young," he said. "We can't take anybody for granted, and we need to demonstrate that we have better offerings, better breadth and that we can deliver the marketer a better [return on investment]."

Japan is not Engage's only target for global expansion. Long established in Europe, it sank deeper roots this year through its acquisition of Flycast, which has operations in the UK and Germany.

It also entered Canada in May through the purchase of the Virtual Billboard Network, one of the largest Canadian-owned Internet advertising networks.

Also in May, the Engage Media division concluded a strategic agreement with ClickExperts, a Latin American online advertising network. The alliance expects to roam across Latin America and into Spain and Portugal with 66 sites and 65 million monthly impressions.

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