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24/7 Completes Nordic Growth, Lands MSN as a Client

LONDON – 24/7 Europe completed its Nordic network last month by launching a startup operation in Finland, and promptly landed Microsoft’s MSN Nordic portal network as a client.

It opened in Denmark, Sweden and Norway in June.

The partnership agreement with Microsoft covers MSN’s Nordic portals and Hotmail, and is designed to maximize MSN’s revenue potential, a statement announcing the pact said.

MSN/Hotmail generates 60 million impression a month within the Nordic network. The network has 2 million subscribers in Sweden alone, more than 60 percent of all Swedes who are online.

24/7 will try to generate revenue through sales of advertising, sponsorship, and partnership solutions, and do so by tapping into MSN’s subscriber database, “from which we can offer extremely sophisticated targeting options,” said Stein Lillemoen, 24/7’s Nordic regional director.

Opening in Finland puts 24/7 into 12 European countries with 13 offices. “Our aim is to get as comprehensive coverage as possible and to reach across Europe as widely as possible,” said spokeswoman Suzanna Collis. “We now have operations in all the major markets.”

The company maintains two regional operations – one in Scandinavia through four different local 24/7 companies and the other in Benelux through 24/7 Nederland and 24/7 Belge.

The Finnish company is called 24/7 Suomi – the Finnish word for Finland. Other subsidiaries are also given local language titles, such as 24/7 Deutschland and 24/7 Italia.

“One thing we do is employ local people in every market who have a thorough understanding of their market and can work well within an integrated framework,” Collis said. “We’re fully integrated and can deliver local and international solutions.”

24/7 Europe, a subsidiary of 24/7 Media in the US, sells Web site properties to advertisers and their agencies. “We sell advertising, sponsorship, e-commerce and direct marketing solutions,” Collis explained.

“We can be flexible in developing packages for advertisers. Sponsorships can be a range of things from wall paper to creating new content for a site or taking ownership of a particular site area.”

24/7 Media moved into Europe in January by taking a 60-percent stake, worth $4 million, in Interad Holding, a company with 64 European sites and a presence in Spain, Germany and France. It now represents 100 sites.

Interad Holding’s core goes back to 1996 when it was set up as Softbank Interactive Marketing. A year later it was acquired by ZuluTech, but the fit didn’t match and management split off to form Interad.

The infusion of new capital led to quick growth this year, giving 24/7 Europe offices in London, Paris, Milan, Hamburg, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona.

The company wants to expand within existing markets before moving beyond them. It is currently looking into a second office in Germany.

The startup in Helsinki was due to the growing push for more multi-market campaigns, and because Finland, though small, has deep online penetration, making it a particularly attractive market.

Predecessor Softbank did the fist fully pan-European campaign in the fall of 1997, and since then, Collis said, “more and more advertisers are looking to do the same thing.”

As a global company, 24/7 Media attracts clients who want more than just a European reach. The parent company can open the US to clients, and 24/7 Asia, based in Hong Kong, is a link to that market.

The concept is still fairly new in Europe, Collis maintained, citing DoubleClick and Real Media, a Swiss-backed company, as its major competitors in selling Web-based advertising.

Like all other companies active in this market, 24/7 has its own estimate of market size. It predicts that the European online advertising market will be worth $485 million this year, rising to $1.65 billion in 2001 and $5 billion in 2004.

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