Overture Readies German-Language Launch

Pay-for-placement search provider Overture is preparing to launch a new office and new distribution agreements, designed to attract German-speakers and advertisers.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based company, which already has a unit in the U.K., said it plans to formally inaugurate its four-month-old office in Munich on Monday. The outpost would serve advertisers in Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.

The company also said it planned to announce the results of a partnership with German ISP T-Online, which is a unit of Deutsche Telekom, and with which Overture has had an distribution agreement since December. On Monday, the ISP will add listings from Overture into the search engine results on its portal.

According to Jupiter Media Metrix, T-Online’s portal is seen by more than half of all European German speakers — giving Overture a sizable reach immediately upon its opening in the market.

Within months, Overture expects to have a second German-language distribution partner ready. In January, the company signed an agreement with AOL Europe, a unit of New York-based AOL Time Warner. Similarly to the T-Online arrangement, the AOL deal would syndicate Overture’s German- and English-language results across AOL Europe’s sites in Germany, France and the U.K. (Overture already has an agreement with AOL Time Warner in the U.S.)

Overture’s European maneuverings are designed to broaden the company’s reach with a distribution network tailored exclusively to German-speakers. There won’t be any crossover with Overture’s U.K. and U.S. network, though existing Overture advertisers can sign up for the German network if they have German-language content.

Along the same lines, Overture confirmed that it is considering launching units in France and Japan, which would be headed up by local talent, similarly to its Munich office (which is overseen by Manfred Klaus, formerly in charge of marketing and sales at German Web publisher and technology firm FOCUS Digital AG.). The company said no firm timetable had been set for a French and Japanese rollout.

The moves also come as Overture is facing new competition from Google, which recently began distributing its pay-for-placement ads to affiliates, including ISP Earthlink, which had previously used Overture. Earlier this week, Google also rolled out a cost-per-click (CPC) model for its ads, in an apparent bid to challenge Overture’s long-established CPC model.

Like Overture, Google has made recent international efforts to expand its paid listings program, earlier this month adding German portal Web.de to its distribution partners.

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