Overture Continues Global Expansion

Expanding efforts to establish itself abroad, paid-placement search engine Overture has signed deals to open offices in Japan and France.

The establishment of Overture K.K. in Tokyo and Overture S.A.R.L. in Paris builds on the establishment of a presence in Germany earlier this year. The strategy is aimed at setting up language-specific markets for paid-search listings, which are then syndicated to local sites.

“We are confident that the superior quality and value Overture provides its tens of thousands of affiliate partners and 60,000 advertisers in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany will receive an equally warm reception in these new and important markets,” said Overture President and Chief Executive Ted Meisel.

While Pasadena, Calif.-based Overture now has offices in both countries, the company isn’t expected to actually launch its regional listings for some time, however: Overture’s Paris subsidiary is expected to launch its listings in the third quarter, while the Tokyo unit won’t do the same until first quarter of 2003.

Heading up the Tokyo subsidiary will be Shigehito Suzuki, formerly president and CEO at Daijob.com. Suzuki also has held executive positions at Intuit Japan, Sharp Corporation, and AT&T’s Japanese consumer products division.

In addition to the Tokyo office, Overture said it signed search distribution agreements with Goo, a subsidiary of NTT , and Lycos Japan, two of the most popular sites in a nation widely considered the second-largest Internet market. The alliances represent a first step in establishing a Japanese cost-per-click search network.

The French office launches with several partnerships already in place. The company currently serves its paid listings to local ISPs AOL France — through a deal signed in January — and Tiscali France, as well as Terra Lycos’ regional property.

Earlier this year, the company named Christophe Parcot to oversee Overture France as managing director. Prior to joining Overture, Parcot held positions at Liberty Surf Group/Tiscali France, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy , Gruner + Jahr-Bertelsmann and Hachette Distribution and Services.

“We’re pleased about the fast start we’ve made in Japan and France,” said Johannes Larcher, general manager of Overture International. “Both of these markets offer significant and exciting growth opportunities for our business.”

As with the German office launch in February, Overture intends its new offices to broaden its reach with a distribution network tailored exclusively to non-English speakers. The listings would be exclusive of Overture’s U.K. and U.S. network, though existing Overture advertisers are likely to be encouraged to sign up for the other networks if they have language-appropriate content.

Overture’s continuing international moves come as it is facing heated competition from Google, which in February began leveraging its popular search engine to syndicate keyword-based ads. In May, AOL Time Warner allowed its contract with Overture to lapse and signed Google to handle its paid search listings.

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