Mitsui Launches Paid Search Network in Japan

Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co. has launched a pay-per-click keyword ad network in its home country, utilizing FindWhat.com’s private label service.

The new network, called LISTOP, was originally announced in September of last year. It’s FindWhat.com’s latest major revenue sharing deal that pairs its private-labeled technology and consulting with a partner’s sales and distribution. The company has similar partnerships with Lycos and with Verizon’s SuperPages.com yellow pages site, which launched in March.

Initially, LISTOP will offer its services through major Internet advertising agencies, but it plans to offer online self-service — a model that popularized paid search among smaller advertisers in the U.S. — in August. Mitsui is working to add publishers to its network, and has so far lined up Kakaku.com, a price comparison site, and Nikkei Net, the portal for the leading Japanese financial newspaper. The company plans to leverage advertiser and publisher relationships it has built through its other Internet ventures: ISP DoCoMo AOL, loyalty provider NetMile, agency and Web developer Curiocity, and digital broadcaster SKY PerfecTV.

“Once the self-service portal is opened in August, we anticipate significant interest from small to mid-sized advertisers given the cost effective pricing model and the access to Japanese consumers afforded through LISTOP,” said Katsuhiko Oizumi, general manager of the Internet service and marketing department at Mitsui & Co.

The minimum bid for a keyword will be five yen, or about $0.05, making LISTOP the least expensive among paid listings providers in Japan, according to the company. Choosing that bid level puts LISTOP in the second-tier of search players, which echoes FindWhat’s position domestically. Both Yahoo’s Overture and Google compete in the Japanese market.

The launch of FindWhat’s Japanese venture comes on the heels of the company’s most significant international move. Earlier this month, the company closed its on-again off-again merger deal with European paid listings provider Espotting.

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