Dentsu, Softbank Aim to Bring iWeb to Japan

New York-based iWeb Technologies is joining a growing number of U.S. firms aiming to expand into the Japanese market, announcing Monday a joint venture with Tokyo-based ad giant Dentsu.

The deal’s architects hope to introduce iWeb’s iNotes messaging technology to Japanese ISPs and Web publishers.

iNotes enables standalone, desktop applications that download information while not requiring users to go through lengthy software installations. The Alley firm positions these small applications as a way for companies to communicate easily with consumers — typical uses include streaming content feeds like stock quotes, or providing secure access to bank or merchant accounts. In addition, ISPs can use the application to diversify their revenue streams by serving ads directly with their customers, no matter what Web pages the user is visiting.

iNotes clients include U.K. ISP Freeserve Plc. and U.S. sweepstakes site FreeLotto.com.

“To successfully reach users in today’s Internet market, you must find technologies that enable you to deliver the right information, to the right user, at the right time,” said Dentsu executive officer Toshitaka Shimojo. “iNotes’ user-friendly technology does this very effectively by reaching the user’s desktop automatically, whenever they are online, and independent of the Web site they are currently viewing.”

Another partner in the deal is Softbank Media and Marketing, a firm that for some time has been instrumental in bringing U.S. companies into Japan under joint ventures. In late September, Softbank M&M teamed with ad-sponsored surfing firm AllAdvantage to spin out that company’s services in Japan.

Other investors in the iWeb deal include Dentsu’s online venture capital unit Dentsu.com, and Japanese online media buyer cyber communications, inc.

Some industry watchers expect the standalone application to become a hot way for companies to communicate with users, with several other Web-to-desktop startups — like Alley-based Droplet, Inc. and Mountain Valley, Calif.’s DoDots — aiming to capitalize on the trend.

“iNotes is the kind of technology that can revolutionize the way information is delivered over the Internet,” said cci chief executive Toshio Arai. “Today, users must go to a specific Web site to view information, but with iNotes, that same information can be proactively sent directly to the user, no matter what Web site they are currently viewing.”

Earlier today, Dentsu announced that it is joining San Francisco-based Netcentives in a joint venture designed to expand that firm’s incentive marketing tools and services to Japan.

As in that agreement, the American partner is aiming to expand out of an increasingly competitive product market into one that’s fairly nascent. So far, few U.S. interactive marketing companies are targeting Japan, with several ad networks, personalization tech firm NetPerceptions and BigFoot Interactive being among the first.

“We believe that with the combination of our unique technology, along with Dentsu’s unquestioned leadership and proven experience in the Japanese business arena, Softbank’s vast experience in the technology market, and cci’s unique position in the Internet arena, will prove to be a winning partnership for all,” said iWeb president and CEO Kobi Samboursky.

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