DoubleClick Sets Up JV For Greater China, Singapore

DoubleClick Inc., a leading Internet advertising network in the U.S., has announced the formation of DoubleClick Asia with operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and mainland China.

To set up the DoubleClick Asia, the company formed a joint venture with regional Internet play AsiaContent.com Ltd. which, sources say, controls 55 percent of the venture. DoubleClick owns the other 45 percent but the two companies will allegedly flip-flop in a few years.

Officials of both companies, however, would not comment on the ownership structure of the new venture.

DoubleClick CEO Kevin O’Connor was upbeat about the regional market. He said that Internet advertising in Asia has grown at the rate that his company expected, two to three years behind the United States.

“People have pretty much bought into it,” O’Connor told asia.internet.com. “People are just struggling on what’s the strategy.”

Latest estimates show that Internet ad spending will reach close US$300 million by the end of 1999 and nearly $800 million by the of 2000.

However, some observers indicate that, with AsiaContent controlling the CNet, E!Online and MTV brands in Asia through its Tricast subsidiary, some publishers may be concerned about AsiaContent’s involvement in DoubleClick Asia.

In regard to this concern, O’Connor responded that DoubleClick Asia and AsiaContent’s Tricast subsidiary were totally separate companies. Publishers’ data and Advertisers’ data would be kept separate and confidential in accordance with contracts, he said.

“We would destroy our reputation if we broke one contract. Do it once and that would be it,” added O’Connor.

Commenting on CMGI’s recent gobbling up of other prominent Internet ad services and technologies in the U.S., O’Connor said, “the industry was fragmented a month ago. Now its suddenly a two horse race.” Nevertheless, O’Connor would not comment on the rumored merger talks between his company and 24/7 Media.

In reference to the competition in Asia, O’Connor said,”the more people talking about it the better. There are lots of opportunities in the market.”

AsiaContent’s CEO, Chris Justice, pointed out that AsiaContent brought to DoubleClick Asia a sales force of 35 people with a sales management that has 65 years combined experience in media sales and 15 years combined experience in Internet advertising sales.

Justice opined that the ad network’s Asian team had the most experience in the regional industry.

AsiaContent recently bought an online Ad firm in Korea, Kinopia, but Justice indicated that this was not part of DoubleClick Asia.

Some press reports have speculated the there would be DoubleClick launch in Korea by the end and O’Connor told asia.internet.com that DoubleClick Asia may expand beyound Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore.

Other Internet ad firms that have a pan-Asian strategy include Real Media, 24/7 Media, BMC Media, and Space Asia.

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