Yahoo! starts Euro drive in bid for global control

American search engine service sets up localised European Websites to offer surfers both country-specific and worldwide directory information

Yahoo!, the US-based search engine service and one of the Internet’s top three advertising-supported sites, has signed up nine charter advertisers to support the launch of its localised UK and Ireland Website.

Gateway, People Bank, Tesco, TSB, BSkyB and BT Internet are among the first advertisers on the site, one of a growing number of localised Yahoo! services designed to maintain its position as a leading gateway to the rest of the Net.

Ralph Averbuck, producer of Yahoo! UK, says surfers using the site will find UK Web destinations pushed up to the top of the directory, making the site more friendly to those seeking information specific to the UK or Ireland.

Advertisers will be offered a range of options based on guaranteed impressions on the local site following the charter period, based on the global or targeted ad options offered by Yahoo! in the US.

The UK site, which launched on September 23, will be followed by local language Yahoo! sites in France and Germany this month in a joint venture with publisher Ziff-Davis. The European launches follow the development of similar local services covering Canada, Japan, and major US metropolitan areas.

Heather Killen, managing director of Yahoo! Europe, says: “We aim to be like the US TV networks, offering global and local opportunities in programme content and advertising. In that model, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s can get a network buy, but we can also offer Joe-Shmo in Idaho a local buy.

“For advertisers, localised sites do have appeal. In our relatively short history, we have found that when you put on a local site, you draw in more traffic.”

But Killen concedes that US-based rivals including Lycos are not far behind in seeking to extend their services. Lycos is already working with Bertelsmann in Europe to develop a German search engine site.

Improvements in other local directory and Net search services may also cut into potential Yahoo! traffic, she says. “But I would rather be competing from a position of strength in a buoyant market than be the king of a stony, lonely beach,” she adds.

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