Europe is really living up to its image of the Old World. Recently, a German newspaper proudly announced that only one-third of Europeans knew of the existence of the World Wide Web. That means that two-thirds of Europe have never even heard of, not to mention has access to, the Internet. Compare this to the number in the U.S., where approximately one-quarter of the population has Internet access. Within Europe, Swedes and Danes go on-line the most (17 percent), and in Italy, as little as one percent of private households and two percent of workplaces have access. Germany is somewhere in the middle.
However, these low numbers aren’t scaring away European entertainment companies, such as the Egmont Group, one of the largest European publishers of licensed books and comics. The Egmont Group recently announced a deal with America Online Germany to feature a variety of pages with games and edutainment programs, many of which are based on licensed characters.
While the number of European Internet users overall is low, the number of European children going on-line is on the rise, necessitating that licensees and licensors follow the Egmont Group’s lead and take this medium into consideration when designing campaigns. And though television has been much quicker to embrace the Internet than its licensing counterpart, many stations have been slow, at times, to keep on top of the project. Updates are infrequent and hotlinks to companies related to the networks or programs are often non-existent. The European entertainment industry must realize that the time of targeting an audience with one medium is past. Even though access to and even knowledge of the Internet is low in Europe, a new generation growing up with this technology is emerging, and in order to survive, integrated forms of communication using all sorts of media mark the future.
Florian Haffa is a member of the board of EM.TV & Merchandising AG (formerly EM-Entertainment), a Munich-based diversified communications company.