For Harald Neidhardt, New York presents a new series of challenges. The president and CEO of Pixelpark USA arrived in town in mid-April from Hamburg to open the American office of the German full-service agency Pixelpark. Neidhardt, 32, has gone from being called for every big new media pitch in Germany to vying for attention in a city with 1,500 competitors. But he’s put his firm right in the thick of things. Pixelpark USA’s handful of employees have moved into the requisite Silicon Alley loft.
“Here, really, we’re nobody,” he says matter-of-factly. “On the other hand, we come with a lot of experience.”
The shop, majority owned by German †ber media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, focuses on electronic commerce, marketing and finance, and is online agency of record for Adidas. “Adidas wants to beat Nike here,” Neidhardt says. Other clients include Unilever, Siemens and Bayer.
Neidhardt’s ambitions for the U.S. include creating a “bridge to Europe” enabling marketers to engage in electronic commerce on either side of the Atlantic. He cites the example of CDnow, which recently aligned with Lycos Europe to expand business beyond the States. “American ad agencies don’t go after this market,” he says.
Neidhardt hopes the company will develop a reputation in America through its ecommerce work, which has included creating an online store that sells home electronics for Conrad.de, which he describes as “the Radio Shack of Germany.” He says online brands, such as Amazon.com and Music Boulevard are on the right track, though he sees cars and clothing as retail areas that can also expand on the Internet.
Former managing director of Pixelpark’s Hamburg office and now international vice president for the entire company, Neidhardt has some stateside differences to get used to, such as U.S. methods for gauging page views and number of hits. In Germany, the numbers are audited by an independent bureau, IVW, which tracks monthly or weekly traffic, as well as print publication circulation.
Also, Germany has no big advertising networks on which to distribute banners across a collection of sites. Instead, he says, each advertiser must shop around and say, “Buy me a million eyeballs.”
But in Neidhardt’s view, such differences will likely vanish as the Internet moves from its U.S. focus to a global one. “The thing with the existing brands is that most are trying to serve only American customers,” he says.
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