CAMPAIGN REPORT ON EUROPEAN MEDIA: The new internet order - Most internet advertising in Europe is country-based but new moves to develop common standards and improve research should make it easier to run ad campaigns across the Continent. Robert Gray rep

By 2004, 121 million Europeans will be online - that’s 32 per cent of all adults. This forecast is made by Fletcher Research in a recent management report, Internet Europe: Connecting the Consumer. The exact truth of the prediction will only be known five years from now, but what cannot be in doubt is that people in Europe are getting hooked up to the net in droves.

By 2004, 121 million Europeans will be online - that’s 32 per cent

of all adults. This forecast is made by Fletcher Research in a recent

management report, Internet Europe: Connecting the Consumer. The exact

truth of the prediction will only be known five years from now, but what

cannot be in doubt is that people in Europe are getting hooked up to the

net in droves.

Already, the UK and Germany have more than ten million internet users

apiece, with a further four million in France and three million in


And many smaller countries like the Netherlands and the Scandinavian

nations have higher levels of penetration.

Yet, despite the fact that the internet is no respecter of national

frontiers, there has to date been precious little cross-border activity

from advertisers. Language and cultural differences have, of course,

militated against such programmes, as have differing levels of market


’We’re seeing growth all over Europe at the moment but the markets are

at different points,’ Fletcher Research’s director, William Reeve,


’The advertising market is still country-based rather than European and

is likely to stay so, with the exception perhaps of technology clients.

DoubleClick notwithstanding, the buying and selling really takes place

at a local level.’

Another barrier to the creation of a more ordered European internet

advertising marketplace has been a lack of cross-border co-operation

between key organisations and companies in the still nascent new-media

world. There are signs, though, that this is beginning to change.

For instance, the UK arm of the Internet Advertising Bureau is working

more closely with its sister organisations across the Continent. Danny

Meadows-Klue, the IAB’s UK director, says: ’The intention now is to take

what the IAB has achieved in the UK in terms of developing standards,

generating research that everyone relies on and making the buying

process easier - and make that part of a European agenda by working with

sister IAB organisations across Europe.’

Co-operation was formalised this summer with the creation of IAB Europe

as an umbrella under which the IABs from ten different countries can

work together to make life easier for advertisers. IAB Europe is said to

have the support of more than 1,000 companies, which operate websites

that are thought to account for at least 80 per cent of internet

advertising revenue in Europe.

Working groups have been established to explore - on a Europe-wide basis

- issues such as campaign measurement, advertising standards, e-commerce

and the auditing of advertising expenditure. The latter has been a bone

of contention for some time, with advertisers understandably keen to

find an accurate way of determining the sites in Europe that lead the

way in generating ad revenue. Currently, this tends to be calculated on

a rather rough and ready basis - it involves counting the number of

banner ads on a site and multiplying by the media owner’s ratecard. It’s

hardly a rigorous or satisfactory method.

’There is still a good deal of difficulty surrounding the subject of

measurement,’ says Phil Dwyer, European managing director of the

internet research company, Jupiter Communications. ’It is difficult to

measure ’page views’ for sites which are assembling pages out of

databases, rather than static HTML pages, for example. Besides, the

measures we are stuck with - page impressions per month, for example -

are pretty meaningless to advertisers. What they need to measure is how

many people saw the ad.

Over and above that, how many people clicked on the ad? How many of

those generated solid leads? How many turned into sales? How does that

tally with the demographic breakdown of the audience?’

To ensure that the advertiser’s voice is heard, clients and agency

buyers have established their own forum, Fast, in which Procter & Gamble

and IBM are prime movers. Fast and the IAB are working together to try

and bring about greater consistency in the marketplace.

’There is definitely a need to look at standards on a regional European

level,’ says Tim Brown, the IAB’s international co-ordinator, who also

sits on the steering committee of Fast. ’What will probably happen is

that Fast and the IAB will come up with voluntary guidelines, and the

IAB will implement them.’ Done properly, this will be of benefit to

media owners and advertisers alike. And it would certainly make it

easier to develop pan-European campaigns.

’The net is a global medium and more and more companies are buying

across countries and regions,’ Paul Zwillenberg, former managing

director at Associated New Media, says. ’So anything that makes it

easier to buy and sell is a good thing for the industry. The challenge

is to capture the unique way each market works while making it easy for

campaigns to work across borders.’

Among the online properties owned by Associated is UK Plus, the search

and directory services site. In March, UK Plus joined the AllEurope

network of portals, which includes in Germany, in

France, Virgilio of Italy and Ole from Spain. Although it offers

advertisers a single buying point, AllEurope takes the view that

independent media brands, well established in their local markets,

represent the future for pan-European advertising.

And it does seem as if the bigger advertisers are beginning to give

pan-European internet campaigns greater consideration. However, it’s

really only the major portals - such as Yahoo!, Excite and Lycos - that

can offer pan-European coverage, so any serious campaign will involve

putting together a schedule of sites across Europe.

’The fragmentation issues are beginning to show themselves and clients

can see the potential damage of this,’ Bates Interactive’s managing

director, Mike Crossman, says. ’So they are starting to think about and

look at the potential of pan-European buys.’

To make pan-European buys easier, the quality of information available

for planning is improving almost daily. Fletcher Research has set up an

international new-media research network, called E-Source, with partners

from four European countries. The partners are Mediangles (France),

Fittkau & Maass (Germany), Pro Active (Netherlands) and Insites

(Belgium). All are leaders in their domestic markets.

E-Source will develop profiling information - comparable to that used in

the UK - on the online populations of other European markets. This

standardisation - and appreciation of national differences - should help

new-media planners and buyers no end. E-Source’s clients will be able to

access online data from more than 100,000 respondents across five

countries. There are plans to expand into other countries over time.

Meanwhile, Jupiter Communications, the internet consultancy, recently

acquired the Swedish new-media research specialist, Intelligence AB. The

foundations for Europe’s digital infrastructure have been in place for a

few years now, but at last they are starting to be overlaid with the

sort of common sense and consistency of approach that advertisers



The lack - to date - of a credible system for auditing internet

advertising expenditure makes it impossible to compare the performance

of leading European websites in terms of attracting advertising revenue.

However, it is possible to identify sites that are among the top

performers in their respective market-places, and here are six that are

worth looking at seriously. A search engine and navigation tool developed by G+J

Electronic Media Service to provide information in German on the


It is the largest German language web-index and the country’s most

popular portal site - recording 8.2 million visits and 42 million page

views in July 1999. Its advertisers include Amazon, eBay, Deutsche Bank,

Bertelsmann, Bayer, Commerzbank, Shell, Microsoft and Deutsche Telekom.

Its audience has a strong male bias - 77.2 per cent male to 22.8 per

cent female - but spans a broad age range. G+J EMS offers the largest

portfolio of online products in Germany, having developed new-media

versions of many of G+J’s established print titles, including Stern

Online which in July this year recorded more than five million visits

and delivered almost 32 million page views. Associated New Media’s online version of its

Evening Standard daily newspaper. It generates 6.2 million page

impressions a month from about 1.2 million visits and attracts pounds

1.25 million a year in advertising from the likes of British Airways,

IBM, BT, Toyota, Audi, Thames Water, BMW, Disneyland Paris and Virgin.

Sponsorship and co-branded content opportunities are available as well.

About 45 per cent of users are female - which is fairly high in internet

terms. Sixty-three per cent of users are aged 25-44 and 87 per cent are

ABC1s. The online version of Holland’s leading TV listings

magazine, Veronica. This site attracts mainstream advertisers such as

the beer brand, Grolsch, the national telecoms company, KPN, the sanpro

brand, Libresse and MasterCard. An estimated 400,000-500,000 users, most

of whom are in the 15-35 age group, clock up six million page

impressions a month. Content is predominantly about music, film and

video - some is lifted from the print title but much is created

especially for the online product. ’It’s the number one entertainment

site in Holland,’ says Rene Betlem, account manager at IP, the sales

operation. ’The other sites in the top ten are more functional, like

access providers, the telephone book and web search engines.’ French search and directory service that belongs to the

AllEurope network. It attracts 100,000 visits a day and ad revenue for

the year ending 31 March 1999 was Fr10 million (pounds 1 million). Among

its 100 or so advertisers are Audi, Banque Direct, Coca-Cola, Compaq,

Digital, Eurocard, France Telecom, Galeries Lafayette, IBM and La

Redoute. There is a male bias to the user base, with a core audience of

men aged 25-49 in the higher social and professional categories. After the success it has enjoyed in bringing its Spiegel

brand to German television, it comes as little surprise that Spiegel

Group has made a decent fist of transferring its famous current affairs

title onto the web. As at July 1999, the online version of the magazine

was attracting almost three million visits and eight million page

impressions a month. Turnover is above pounds 1 million and advertisers

include Toshiba Europa, IBM Deutschland, Sun Microsystems, Andersen

Consulting, Subaru, ZDF, Union Investment and Microsoft. Scandinavia Online’s is the leading portal

site in Sweden, ranking throughout 1999 as the most visited Swedish

internet site. In June, it was selected as the best internet site in

Sweden by the IDG magazine, Internetworld. In addition to,

the network also contains the leading search engine, Evreka (powered by

Alta Vista).

In May, Passagen Network recorded more than 1.9 million visitors - 53

per cent of Sweden’s internet population. It is also the biggest single

internet advertising vehicle, with an 11.8 per cent of the market in