The Encyclopaedia Britannica is looking for a sales house to drum
up UK advertising for its free web service, which launches here in
The company, which already has American and Australian online versions
of its encyclopaedia, has also hired Western International Media to
handle planning and buying for the launch.
The pounds 1.5 million campaign, to begin early next year, will focus on
TV, press and online.
Agency account director Tim Allnut will head the business, assisted by
new-media manager Ilika Shelley.
Britannica.co.uk managing director James Strachan has invited several
sales houses to pitch for the account but said that the company may
decide to move the sales operation in-house in the future.
Strachan confirmed that one of the main reasons for launching the UK
site was to pull in local advertisers. The US version is supported by
the likes of American Express, technology company Gateway and other
sites such as familyhealth.com.
’But just as baseball may not be as interesting to British users,’ said
Strachan, ’we believe there is incremental revenue to be derived from
advertisers who want to target a purely local audience.’ He also expects
to strike global advertising deals.
Advertising sales for the UK service are controlled by online marketing
director John Nugent. The site is also preparing to recruit a media
sales manager, whose name is to be announced soon.
In common with the American site, which offers news from the Washington
Post alongside its normal content, the UK version will include editorial
from an as-yet-undisclosed newspaper. Content from 70 magazines will
also be available.
The service will be funded by e-commerce as well as advertising.
Users who request information on a given subject will be able to buy
related material over the net, with the encyclopaedia getting a cut of
The US version has been running since 1994, but users previously had to
pay around pounds 30 a year. However, the charge was scrapped last
The move was prompted by dwindling sales of the pricey print
The encyclopaedia has also come up against competition from Microsoft’s