The Yankees Are Coming!

Once upon a time, Americans were focused on defending themselves against the Red Coats — the English soldiers intent on dominating their colonies. Judging from the amount of coverage and attention the European internet is getting in the American press these days, the cry, “The Yankees are coming!” will be heard more and more on the old continent.

Already, the Europeans have to defend their e-commerce markets against the Americans in many sectors, like books and CDs and banks. This need will increase as attention begets attention in the wired world and more attention is paid to Europe than ever before by American internet marketers.

Three years ago, you couldn’t give the European internet away, even to Europeans. When I first started working in this space in 1995, there were very few European “internauts” and even fewer companies courting them.

One of my clients at the time, General Motors/Opel, was the first company to execute a pan-European ad banner campaign. That was in early 1995, and GM/Opel were real pioneers. To this day, more than three-quarters of the online advertising campaigns are national rather than international.

But that may be changing soon, as Americans, and a handful of Europeans, set their sites on a new internet market: Europe.

To meet the need for information about this new market, there have been a couple of special features about the internet in Europe and the rest of the world recently. Time Magazine, together with CNN and Fortune, have put together a special edition called “Visions of Europe”, which isavailable both online and offline.

Time’s presentation takes care to frame Europe within a context relative to the US and Asia with regard to GNP, productivity by sector, and market capitalization. Also, the use of the internet and e-commerce are just two of the many facets of Europe covered in its report. Providing a contextual frame for Europe and internet-related information offers more than a lot of the fee-based analyst work I see, and Time’s report is free on its web site.

McKenzie & Co. supplied the numbers, and Time supplied the local reporting on specific cases that are interesting and illustrative. Time also gets credit for asking readers to check their assumptions about what they think they know about Europe in an interactive quiz, and for covering Europe on a regular basis in its international section.

Inter@ctive Week is taking its first look at the international internet and is also featuring several pieces about Europe and other regions. An interview with Michael Dell about Dell’s international sales should provide inspiration for other American companies who are considering international expansion.

Basically, Dell says that rather than being 18 to 24 months behind the US as many analysts claim, international markets are actually only six to nine months behind. Rather than measuring household PC penetration or the number of people online, Dell measures the things that really matter like the percentage of business his customers do online, the usage of web tools, the usage of web sites and sales leads generated off the web.

From these articles and others, it’s clear that many leading American internet companies have already made the jump across the pond. Many more will consider leveraging their experience into Euroland as they begin to recognize that the internet in Europe has reached critical mass.

At the same time, the European companies are waking up to the potential of the web — the potential for profit as well as the potential menace — which should make Europe a very interesting internet market indeed.

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