WPP-owned Ogilvy Group on Thursday announced a joint Japanese venture with local independent online media agency Nikko. The new shop, branded Neo@Ogilvy KK, will be the first foreign-affiliated online media agency in Japan.

Majority owned by the WPP unit, Neo will open its doors with a staff of eleven, creating, planning and purchasing online ads on behalf of Ogilvy's international clients, among them IBM, Cisco Systems and Lenovo Group.

Although in recent years Japanese traditional advertising growth has been all but moribund, research by Japan's Dentsu Communication Institute suggests that spending on online advertising will grow to ¥566 billion ($4.81bn; €3.9bn; £2.69bn) in 2009 from about ¥180 billion in 2004.

Neo@Ogilvy will certainly not lack competition, entering the ring against sumo-built opponents Dentsu and Hakuhodo DY Media Partners.

But Neo@Ogilvy's representative director, Keizo Yamamoto is uncowed, arguing that the dominant traditional agencies aren't sufficiently nimble in the online world: "I don't think anybody can monopolize this market," he opines.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff