24/7 Media Asia to Handle SOHU.com Global Online Ad Sales

Online ad network 24/7 Media Asia will sell and serve ads for mainland Chinese portal SOHU.com, despite apparent competition between the content site and the ad network’s parent.

Executives from all parties in Monday’s agreement say they are optimistic regardless of an obvious overlap in their companies’ offerings. 24/7 Media Asia is affiliated with U.S.-based 24/7 Media, but more importantly, is a subsidiary of Asian content portal chinadotcom Corp. — and thus, competes with SOHU.com.

“The agreement with SOHU is significant for us as it demonstrates our commitment at 24/7 Media Asia to offer independent services across the Internet marketplace in Asia, regardless of perceived competitive issues,” said Peter Yip, chief executive officer, chinadotcom, and chairman, 24/7 Media Asia.

“Together SOHU and the chinadotcom network of portals offer tremendous value to advertisers through their combined popularity in mainland China,” he added.

Under terms of the agreement, 24/7 Media Asia will become SOHU.com’s exclusive global agent to sell its advertising space. 24/7 Media Asia will also serve advertisements and handle measurement, anonymous user tracking and optimization.

“Our site is an attractive advertising vehicle due to its high visibility in the marketplace and its excellent user demographics,” said SOHU.com chief executive officer Charles Zhang.

“We believe 24/7 Media Asia has the experience and power to effectively market our site as an important advertising property that enables marketers, Web publishers and advertisers to implement revenue-generating one-to-one marketing campaigns that will truly interest our portal users,” he added.

The most lucrative aspect of the deal, however, are the big-name advertisers carried on 24/7’s ad network — which includes consumer tech heavyweights like Sony, Ericsson, and Compaq.

The Chinese online content market is cramped and, so far, unprofitable. Chinadotcom has been partnering lately to add non-content revenue streams, and Monday’s announcement suggests that SOHU also is making efforts to ramp up revenue. Even if it means partnering with a rival.

Yip dismissed controversy about the agreement’s competitive issues, saying that the agreement has larger ramifications for the good of the Asian Internet industry.

“The biggest challenge facing Internet companies in Asia today is developing the market,” he said. “By working together the industry will help to establish the Internet as a broadly accepted medium for mass communication.”

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