Screaming Media, a content services provider, is looking to enter the lucrative but difficult German market in the second quarter of 2001 after opening offices in London and Paris last year.
“Germany is and will be the largest market in Europe. It is certainly larger than the [United Kingdom] and France, but the media landscape in Germany is more concentrated, with a few large media groups controlling most of the media,” said Eric Monjalous, vice president in charge of European development. Monjalous opened the company's first European office in London last April. “That makes it slightly trickier for us to have good discussions there.”
Equally daunting is the geographic decentralization. Germany does not have one center like Paris or London. Media companies are concentrated in Hamburg, technology in Munich and the government in Berlin, the capital. Screaming Media is looking at all three for possible German offices.
Monjalous moved in November from London to Paris, where “at the moment we are trying to establish partnerships with French content providers — large newspapers and media groups like Havas and Hachette,” he said.
So far Screaming Media has 120 providers in Europe, most of them in the United Kingdom and 12 in France. Monjalous is aiming for 300 French providers at the most.
“We only focus on large content providers with large volumes,” he said. “I know that some of our competitors claim to have thousands of them, but we are more interested in a good relationship with a limited number of content providers and working closely together with them rather than targeting large numbers.”
Among clients signed up so far are Dow Jones Europe; the Independent, a major UK newspaper; dpa, the German news agency; the British Press Agency; and New Media Age. Worldwide, the company has 3,000 content providers, including ABC News, USA Today and Business 2.0.
Monjalous said Screaming Media had few competitors in Europe, though iSyndicate has also decided to move to Europe, where it set up a partnership with an e-media company.
“Our philosophy is to remain neutral in terms of content,” he said.
Screaming Media, he said, “does two things — aggregate and distribute, and syndicate content. That's the traditional model. We provide technology to people who have content and want to sell it to different platforms.
“Some do their own syndication, which is something of a new business in the online world. Providers have multiple choices. They can syndicate themselves and use our technology, or they can have us syndicate and provide the distribution channel.”
Screaming Media has developed proprietary technology called “siteware,” which allows content providers to appear directly on client Web sites. That technology is one of the company's strongest sales appeals.
“Most of our content providers are global players with more than one language and have good technology platforms, so it makes sense for us to spread out and leverage our technology in different countries,” Monjalous said.
The move to Europe, he said, was prompted by the realization that Europe's online use was growing faster than in the United States and that by 2003 “the U.S. will represent only a third of the online business, Europe a third and the rest of the world a third. So if you want to be a global player, you have to be in Europe.”
For now, he said, Screaming Media has no plans to open in Asia but plans a small operation in Australia.