Real Media Goes Down Under

SAN FRANCISCO (01/27/2000) - Real Media, an online-advertising software company based in New York, celebrated Australia Day Wednesday by buying a 25 percent stake in MediaFusion, an Australian online media rep firm.

Online ad companies may not know about national-pride celebrations like Australia Day, but they are rapidly ramping up overseas to bolster their international operations. DoubleClick, 24/7 and CMGI have all attempted to plant flags in Europe, Latin America or Asia in the past year. Last year, Real Media acquired German online ad firm Cubicmedia.

"We like the guys at Media Fusion. The know the business and have established relationships with companies in Australia like MP3.com.au," says Real Media chairman Dave Morgan. Real Media already has a Latin American and European presence. It also has Asian offices in Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore. The company's Australia move shows that Real Media is interested in buying into firms that understand the Pacific Rim - and fast.

Real Media is a five-year-old advertising firm that offers various online marketing services. It licenses its software to Web sites, from the New York Times to Playboy, which want to target and track ads that they serve, but who prefer to keep their ad-management system in-house rather than handing control to an outside company.

In addition to licensing its technology, another part of Real Media's business is selling ads for sites that don't have their own sales force. Qualcomm recently announced that Real Media will be the ad-sales representative for the popular Eudora e-mail program, which will offer an ad-supported version for free. "The amount of traffic is going to be enormous," says Morgan of the Eudora deal.

"We think with the Olympics being in Australia this year, 2000 will be a very big year for advertising, and online advertising," adds Morgan. "We will work closely with Media Fusion, because we are committed to taking a strong position in that market."

The nine-month-old Media Fusion will now be run as Real Media Australia by its two cofounders, David Purcell and Brendon Croppers, former media planners whose previous career experience includes planning media buys for DDB and business development stints at 24/7 Media. Media Fusion has eight employees, but will triple in size this year, Morgan says. Media Fusion represents more than 25 sites and has access to 50 million monthly ad impressions.

All the major ad players have Asia-Pacific plays. Last year, 24/7 Media partnered with China.com to develop its Asian network and plans to use its own 24/7 Connect ad-serving technology there soon. DoubleClick has a number of sales offices in Asia. And last week, AdForce signed a three-year partnership with Chinese network Media 999 to expand in Asia. Perhaps Real Media Australia's biggest competition, however, will come from Sabela, an Australian ad company founded in 1998 that provides a variety of online ad and marketing services to advertisers.

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