Digital league 2011

With more brands pushing the marketing boundaries, digital agencies are increasingly finding themselves at the centre of campaigns that span all media and disciplines.

Old Spice recent campaigns have embraced TV, online and social media
Old Spice recent campaigns have embraced TV, online and social media

It goes without saying that digital is a rapidly changing landscape, which means agencies constantly have to experiment and innovate to stay ahead of the curve. More than this, digital agencies need to look at technology and new developments in the context of the lives of consumers; and with marketing departments more digitally savvy than ever before, digital agencies have to work hard to stay ahead.

Marketing's latest digital league table, which ranks agencies based on turnover, highlights the degree to which the climate has changed in the past 12 months.

LBi retains the top spot, while several agency mergers have taken place in the data and digital space. CRM agency Publicis Dialog merged with direct and digital agency Chemistry earlier this year, while, in August, digital agency Tangent One merged with customer insight firm Snowball. More recently, SapientNitro acquired DAD, with the aim of bringing direct response and measurement capabilities to the agency's multichannel marketing and commerce offering.

Of the current environment, Wayne Brown, managing director of digital ad agency glue Isobar, says: 'The agencies that will be successful will be those that can genuinely join the dots for their clients, both by moving upstream to understand how technology is affecting their business, as well as understanding how to take those insights, translate them and make things that consumers will really love.'

With a growing number of campaigns having a heavy online presence and offering more opportunities for data capture, the chance for digital agencies to become gatekeepers and interpreters of this information puts them in a strong position.

'If they aren't already doing so, digital agencies need to become data-savvy very quickly and realise that their traditional skills in design and development must be complemented by understanding, insight and management of data,' says Simon McEvoy, head of planning at CRM, direct and digital agency Tangent Snowball.

He adds: 'The trend toward relevancy, personalisation and dynamic content is creating a "personal web", which digital agencies can harness to hugely powerful effect, but only if they know how to collect, curate and interpret data properly.'

Campaigns now generally need to involve digital, data, dynamic offline content, social media and mobile to provide an immersive customer experience. However, Nick Farnhill, founding partner of digital agency Poke, says it is not all about cutting-edge development - an understanding of what is genuinely useful and relevant to a user's life is important, rather than simply jumping on the latest bandwagon. He adds: 'The continuing growth of social platforms and web technologies presents opportunities to digital agencies, but also poses threats to those that fail to remain ahead of change and don't experiment and develop skills.'

For her part, Mel Cruickshank, chief executive of Lida, says: 'Digital in 2011 isn't about just "sending out messages" to unsuspecting customers, it is about building an open and collaborative dialogue with them and encouraging them to continue these discussions with their own group of decision influencers and peers. It requires both the better use of data and the wider search for insight if it is to succeed.' She adds that, in light of this, brands have been pushing the digital boundaries, citing Heineken's Star Player app, which brought together digital, mobile and social media in a user-friendly package, with the idea updated and refreshed with help from consumers. Agency Republic's planning director, Alistair Millen, agrees that the app, which was intended to entertain men as they watched live Champions League matches on TV, is a good example of a branded utility.

Procter & Gamble's Old Spice is another brand creating digital waves. Its 'The man your man could smell like' viral marketing campaign remains a talking point more than a year since its launch. 'We don't start out trying to create a digital campaign or a TV campaign; we begin with the communication idea - the centrepiece of the campaign,' says Michael Norton, communications director for male grooming at P&G.

'Two examples are the recent Old Spice "Smell like a man, man" and "Fabio" campaigns,' he explains. 'Both were created as holistic campaigns with a strong digital component. Consumers were involved as they could request video responses or vote for their favourite character. The work allowed consumers to share the content with their friends or followers.'

Alongside social media, there are other technologies likely to shape digital marketers' campaigns in the next year (see box, right).

Millen says Agency Republic has focused its experimentation activity on the development of consumer experiences that span mobile, digital and the real world.

'The latest mobile web technologies now make it cost-effective for all brands to develop a specific mobile presence,' he says. 'Among our clients, investment in these so far in 2011 has come from Vodafone and Danone. We have also looked at real-world Facebook "likes" at events for Diageo, and object recognition for Nivea.'

According to some industry observers, brands are also gaining the ability to accurately predict how consumers will behave online. Ben Jones, head of technology at interactive agency AKQA, says the use of 'predictive intelligence' can boost the relevance of a campaign and, therefore, the likelihood that consumers will engage with it.

'We are currently testing solutions using Google Prediction, which allows us to analyse historical and event-based data from consumer actions and predict with precision the next step they may take,' says Jones. 'We used to say: "Don't make a consumer choose, help them choose." We are now nearing a time when we will be able to start to choose for them.'

Nick Dutch, multimedia manager at pizza chain Domino's, says this uptake in new technologies means it is not surprising that attribution and integration continue to pose challenges for brands. For the launch of a stuffed-crust line earlier this year, the brand created an online campaign entitled 'Cheesy quest', which encouraged consumers to take part in web-based challenges; on completion, participants could then enter a code to receive a voucher.

'Think of it as social-media orienteering - we're exploring opportunities within social, local and mobile,' adds Dutch.

'We invest significantly in affiliates, pay-per-click, search-engine optimisation, social and display - and, as we go into 2012, we'll be adding more mobile into the mix. Understanding the influences each channel has on the other and its role in the conversion funnel is becoming increasingly complicated.'

According to Hugh Boyle, global digital director at OgilvyAction, the brand activation arm of Ogilvy Group, ubiquity will become a more important factor. Price-comparison apps and Amazon's barcode scanner, for example, have become so widespread that they have lost their digital label and become part of general shopping behaviour.

'The fact that Tesco is running 30-second ads talking about its app shows how truly ubiquitous digital technology has become and how little, if any, friction there is - instead, the best technologies act as great enablers,' says Boyle.

Nathan McDonald, managing partner at We are Social, contends that it is not enough to build a Facebook app or integrate Twitter into your website. The latest technologies and apps can inspire ideas, but to be effective, genuine insight into the social environment in which they will live is required.

It has taken many years for agencies of all denominations to work out how to get the disciplines of creative, technology, planning and design to work together effectively. However, the goalposts keep shifting, so the fresh challenge for digital agencies is to integrate social thinking into the creative and technology mix.


Open Graph protocol - Facebook has given brands access to data and connections, but this is just the start. Consumers interact with many other social channels, creating the Open Graph.

PanelDirector software - Minority Report-esque billboard that reads faces and scans them against a database of 10,000 facial images to determine factors such as sociodemographics. It then serves a relevant ad based on the result.

Near-field communication (NFC) - As smart devices become the norm, the integration of NFC technology for instant payment and data transfer will open up a whole new world for consumers to interact with brands.

Social TV - More than half of people in the UK now browse the web while watching TV. From The X Factor to the Super Bowl, people group around shows and are taking part in shared experiences, with the top programmes regularly becoming trending topics on Twitter. Now, sponsorship idents and ads are introducing hashtags, too.

Digital storytelling - Work like 'The Creators Project' campaign - to showcase artists - by Intel and Vice magazine changed the way people look at branded content. From 'crowd-created' content such as Google's Life in a Day online film to apps such as Flipboard, the web allows brands to connect in more interesting ways.

Rise of the web app - People consume media on lots of devices and expect seamless integration across them, and with HTML5 and responsive design, agencies and brands are able to deliver the experiences people expect, in all the places they want.

Geo-tagging via stickybits - This is a meeting of the physical and digital worlds, where products have clouds of digital data connected to them, such as discounts accessed by a simple interface.

Aurasma Augmented reality technology, which attaches digital information to real objects via smartphones, such as in the student-oriented interactive campaign for the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, by OgilvyAction.

Predictive intelligence - Based on its 'chatbot' technology, AKQA was able to provide human-like responses to the gameplay in online game Sherlock Holmes 221b.

Voice recognition - AKQA integrated voice recognition into a Nigella Lawson iPhone app, helping the user to navigate through the recipes.

Note from table:

0.5% email, 4% ads, 19% search, 0.25% affiliate,15% other 6.5% media. Clients include BT, Lloyds Banking Group, Virgin Atlantic.

EMC Consulting
Founded 1991. Subsidiary EMC Corporation. Managing director Joe Tucci. 100% consultancy. Clients include Barclays Bank, ASOS, Barclaycard.

Founded 1995. Privately owned. European managing director Guy Wieynk. 20% consultancy, 25% design/build, 10% e-commerce, 20% mobile, 3% eCRM, 20% ads, 2% media. Clients include Nike, Heineken, Fiat.

Founded 1999. Privately owned. Joint chief executives Ian Millner and Tom Poynter. 10% consultancy, 20% design/build, 15% e--commerce, 10% mobile, 5% eCRM, 5% viral, 5% email, 10% ads, 5% search, 15% other. Clients include Sony Ericsson, adidas, Philips.

We are 20:20 (formerly Digital Marketing Group)
Founded 2006. Publicly quoted. Chief executive Charles Buddery. 26.8% consultancy, 13.8% design/build, 14.9% e-commerce, 1.7% mobile, 3% eCRM, 3.2% viral, 3% email, 3.2% ads, 25.2% search, 5.2%  media. Clients include PepsiCo, Santander, United Biscuits.

Publicis Chemistry
Founded 2011. Publicly quoted. Chief executive Joe Garton. 5% consultancy, 22.5% design/build, 20% e-commerce, 2% CD-ROM, 3% mobile, 22.5% eCRM, 10% email, 10% ads, 5% search. Clients include SCA, HP, Experian.

M&C Saatchi (UK)
Founded 1994. Publicly quoted. Chief executive Lisa Thomas. 9% consultancy, 25% design/build, 11% mobile, 19% eCRM, 5% viral, 8% email, 12% ads, 5% other, 6% media. Clients include Google, Vertu, RBS.

Founded 1999. Subsidiary EDC Communications. Chief executive Lee Leggett. 12% consultancy, 32% design/build, 5% mobile, 5% eCRM, 10% viral, 3% email, 20% ads, 2% search, 11% other. Clients include Sainsbury's, Diageo, Barclaycard.

Founded 1990. Publicly quoted. Chief executive Tash Whitmey. 1% consultancy, 40% design/build, 1% CD-ROM, 5% mobile, 18% eCRM, 3% viral, 18.5% ads, 13.5% other. Clients include Tesco, Peugeot, Diageo.

Founded 1995. Subsidiary Hasgrove. Managing partner Natalie Gross. 25% consultancy, 25% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 5% mobile, 5% eCRM, 2% email, 8% ads, 10% search, 10% other, 5% media.

Founded 1998. Privately owned. Managing director Dave Gall. 10% consultancy, 10% design/build, 15% e-commerce, 3% mobile, 2% eCRM, 3% virals, 2% emails, 15% ads, 15% search, 5% affiliate, 20% media. Clients include Mini, Smirnoff, Marks & Spencer.

Founded 1987. Subsidiary Creston. Managing director Chris Freeland. 10% consultancy, 15% design/build, 3% e-commerce, 7% mobile, 25% eCRM, 4% viral, 16% email, 10% ads, 7% search, 3% other. Clients include Diageo, Infiniti, Unilever.

Glue Isobar
Founded 1999. Subsidiary Aegis Media. Chief executive Mark Cridge. 25% consultancy, 20% design/build, 2% mobile, 2% viral, 1% email, 25% ads, 25% other. Clients include Toyota, RBS/NatWest, Kellogg's.

G2 Joshua
Founded 1988. Subsidary WPP. Chief executive Tim Hipperson. 20% consultancy, 10% design/build, 5% mobile, 30% eCRM, 5% viral, 15% email, 15% ads. Clients include Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Hertz.

MRM London
Founded 2005. Subsidiary Interpublic Group. Chief executive Mike Cornwell. 10% consultancy, 20% design/build, 10% e-commerce, 5% iTV, 10% mobile, 30% eCRM, 5% viral, 5% email, 5% ads. Clients include Intel, Dell, Vauxhall.

Founded 1981. Privately owned. Chief executive Christoph Becker. 15% consultancy, 25% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 8% mobile, 18% eCRM, 10% viral, 9% email, 5% ads, 5% search. Clients include FedEx, Virgin Atlantic, L'Oreal.

Publicis Modem
Founded 2007. Subsidiary Publicis. Chief executive Enda McCarthy. 40% consultancy, 25% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 10% mobile, 10% eCRM, 10% search. Clients include Renault, Visa, UBS.

Kitcatt Nohr Digitas
Founded 2002. Subsidiary Publicis Groupe. Chief executive Marc Nohr. 10% consultancy, 20% design/build, 10% e-commerce, 5% mobile,15% eCRM, 15% viral, 5% email, 15% ads, 5% other. Clients include Waitrose, Lexus, Procter & Gamble.

Founded 2002. Subsidiary Chime Communications. Managing director Michael Sugden. No specialisms disclosed. Clients include o2, Microsoft, Unilever.

Reading Room
Founded 1996. Privately owned. Chief executive Margaret Manning. 30% consultancy, 38%  design/build, 10% e-commerce, 1% mobile, 5% eCRM, 3% viral, 3% email, 5% ads, 5% search marketing. Clients include Barclays, G4S, London Metal Exchange.

Tangent Snowball (formerly Tangent One)
Founded 2002. Publicly quoted. Managing director Damien Bentley. 25% consultancy, 18% design/build, 27% e-commerce, 7% mobile, 15% eCRM, 2% viral, 3% ads, 3% search. Clients include Carlsberg, Pearson, Gala Coral.

Founded 1978. Privately owned. Chief executive Douglas Broadley. Specialisms not disclosed. Clients include Ford, Shell, BT.

Start JG
Founded 1996. Joint managing directors Jennifer McAleer and Kevin Gill. 33% consultancy, 2% design/build, 15% kiosk, 50% other. Clients include adidas, Barclays, Marks & Spencer.

Harvest Digital
Founded 2001. Privately owned. Managing director Emma Wilson. 2% consultancy, 15% design/build, 1% email, 36% search, 1% affiliate, 45% media. Clients include Tesco, Chevrolet, Experian.

Founded 1985. Subsidiary Creston. Managing director Nick Davies. 5% consultancy, 30% design/build, 2% CD-ROM, 1% mobile, 5% eCRM, 1% viral, 25% email, 15% ads, 10% search, 6% media. Clients include Jaguar Land Rover, Tesco, Department of Health/Smokefree.

Founded 1998. Subsidiary Havas. Founding partner Steve Stretton. 15% consultancy, 20% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 10% mobile, 7.5% eCRM, 5% viral, 7.5% email, 15% ads, 15% other. Clients include o2, EDF Energy, Skoda.

Big (formerly Fuse Digital)
Founded 1996. Subsidiary The Mission Marketing Group. Managing director Mike Phillipson. 25% consultancy, 25% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 5% mobile, 5% eCRM, 5% viral, 10% email, 10% ads, 5% search, 5% other. Clients include Miele, Grant Thornton, Lil-lets.

Founded 1998. Privately owned. Chief executive Dan Thwaites. 15% consultancy, 10% design/build, 15% e-commerce, 1% CD-ROM, 4% iTV, 10% mobile, 10% eCRM, 5% viral, 10% email, 10% ads, 5% search, 5% affliate. Clients include BT, Sony, Honda.

Rufus Leonard
Founded 1989. Privately owned. Managing director Will Rowe. 15% consultancy, 30% design/build, 20% e-commerce, 5% mobile, 10% email, 10% ads, 10% other. Clients include British Gas, o2, Lloyds Banking Group.

Billington Cartmell
Founded 1990. Publicly quoted. Group managing director Jason Nicholas. 10% consultancy, 15% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 5% CD-ROM, 10% iTV, 5% mobile, 15% eCRM, 5% viral, 10% email, 15% ads, 5% affiliate. Clients include GSK, Morrisons, Unilever.

Work Club Group
Founded 2007. Privately owned. Chief executive Martin Brooks. 80% consultancy, 10% mobile, 10% eCRM. Clients include Kraft Foods, BBC, Pernod Ricard.

Partners Andrews Aldridge
Founded 1998. Subsidiary Engine Group. Chief executive Martin Nieri. 25% consultancy, 15% design/build, 20% eCRM, 20% email, 20% ads. Clients include Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, GSK, News International.

Founded 1995. Subsidiary Media Square. Chief executive Liz Wilson 5% consultancy, 32% design/build, 3% mobile, 25% eCRM, 5% email, 15% ads, 15% other. Clients include Kellogg's, Cadbury, Flybe.

Positive Digital
Founded 2005. Privately owned. Managing director Julian Reiter. 10% consultancy, 15% design/build, 15% e-commerce, 5% email, 20% ads, 35% search. Clients include DSGi, City Index, Rank Interactive.

Agency Republic
Founded 2001. Subsidiary Omnicom. Managing director Matt Kwiecinski. 5% consultancy, 35% design/build, 5% mobile, 5% eCRM, 50% ads. Clients include Vodafone, Beiersdorf, Danone.

Founded 1997. Privately owned. Chief executive Tim Murphy. 15% consultancy, 40% design/build,15% mobile, 10% viral, 20% ads. Clients include Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club, Channel 4, Lloyds Banking Group.

Founded 2000. Privately owned. Chief executive James Freedman. 10% consultancy, 25% design/build, 15% e-commerce, 50% other. Clients include Channel 4, BT, Coca-Cola.

Founded 2001. Subsidiary Mother. Managing Partners Nick Farnhill, Peter Beech. 5% consultancy, 50% design/build, 5% mobile, 5% email, 35% ads. Clients include Orange UK, Skype, Mulberry.

twenty six
Founded 1996. Subsidiary Media Square. Chief executive Gail Dudleston. 4% consultancy, 35% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 15% mobile, 4% eCRM, 4% viral, 4% email, 4% ads, 14% search, 1% affiliate, 10% other. Clients include Gatwick, NHSBT, Procter and Gamble.

Founded 2000. Subsidiary M&C Saatchi. Chief executive Mel Cruickshank. 10% consultancy, 15% design/build, 2% e-commerce, 2% iTV, 12% mobile, 25% eCRM, 5% viral, 15% email, 10% ads, 4% search. Clients include Ishares, Mini, Ikea.

The Group
Founded 1995. Privately owned. Managing director Cathal Smyth. 20% consultancy, 75% design/build, 5% other. Clients include Centrica, SABMiller, British Land.

Founded 2001. Privately owned. Chief executive Tarek Nseir. 25% consultancy, 30% design/build, 20% e-commerce,1% CD-ROM, 10% mobile, 5% eCRM, 2% viral, 2% email, 5% search. Clients include Pottermore, Sony, Research In Motion.

Founded 1998. Privately owned. Managing director Matt Crisp. 10% consultancy, 15% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 5% CD-ROM, 10% iTV, 5% mobile, 15% eCRM, 5% viral, 10% email, 15% ads, 5% affiliate. Clients include Panasonic, John Frieda, Green & Black's.

Ogilvy Action
Founded 2006.Subsidiary WPP.  Chief operating office Andrew Reeves. 11% consultancy, 50% design/build, 2% e-commerce, 5% CD-ROM, 5% mobile, 5% eCRM, 5% viral, 5% email, 10% ads, 2% other. Clients include Boehringer Ingleheim, Bacardi, Motorola.

Maher Bird Associates
Founded 1994. Subsidiary Maher Bird Holdings. Chief executive Stephen Maher. 20% consultancy, 10% design/build, 10% e-commerce, 5% mobile, 20% eCRM, 5% viral, 15% email, 15% ads. Clients include AA, Lovefilm, National Trust.

Skive Group
Founded 2001. Privately owned. Chief executive James Sanderson. 15% consultancy, 25% design/build, 10% mobile, 5% viral, 5% ads, 40% other. Clients include Carlsberg, Nestle, AVG Technologies.

Code Computer Love
Founded 1999. Privately owned. Chief executive Tony Foggett. 10% consultancy, 20% design/build, 20% e-commerce, 20% mobile, 4% email, 10% ads, 10% search, 5% other, 1% media. Clients include Oxfam, First Group, Berghaus.

Freestyle Interactive
Founded 1996. Privately owned. Managing director Suzanne Linton. 25% consultancy, 38% design/build, 5% e-commerce, 2% mobile, 30% other. Clients include Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, Alstom, Arriva Buses.

Founded 1979. Privately owned. Managing director Peter Matthews. 30% consultancy, 10% design/build, 50% e-commerce, 10% mobile. Clients include P&O Cruises, Haven Holidays, Regent Hotels & Resorts.

Founded 1958. Subsidiary WPP/Young & Rubicam Group. Chief executive Brendan Tansey. 10% consultancy, 20% design/build, 10% e-commerce, 10% mobile, 15% eCRM, 10% email, 20% ads, 5% search. Clients include Ford, Nokia, Microsoft.

Outside Line
Founded 2000. Privately owned. Founders Ant Cauchi and Lloyd Salmons. 35% design/build, 5% eCRM, 10% viral, 40% ads, 10% other. Clients include InBev Arla Foods, British Gas.

We are Social
Founded 2008. Privately owned. Managing director Robin Grant. 100% other. Clients include Tesco, Heinz,

Table 19
Founded 2008. Privately owned. Managing director Matt Broekhuizen. 30% consultancy, 20% design/build, 5% mobile, 20% eCRM, 5% email, 10% ads, 10% search. Clients include Research in Motion, The Carphone Warehouse, BSkyB.

Founded 2004. Privately owned. Managing partner Robert Goldsmith. 25% design/build, 10% mobile, 10% eCRM, 35% ads, 20% other. Clients include Sony Pictures Releasing, Bord Bia, AB World Foods.

Founded 1984. Privately owned. Managing director Marcus Sandwith. 25% consultancy, 29% design/build, 3% mobile, 28% eCRM, 5% email, 5% ads, 5% search. Clients include Majestic Winehouse, HJHeinz, Procter & Gamble.

Design UK
Founded 1997. Privately owned. Managing director Leigh Whitney. 15% consultancy, 35% design/build, 35% e-commerce, 10% ads, 5% search. Clients include Jaeger, Hobbs, Berwin Leighton Paisner.

Founded 1998. Privately owned. Managing director Vicky Reeves. 7% consultancy, 32% design/build, 28% e-commerce, 1% mobile, 7% ads, 5% search, 20% other. Clients include The Random House Group, Big Bus Tours. Unicef UK.

Founded 1999. Privately owned. Chief executive Kevin Taylor. 10% consultancy, 20% design/build, 20% e-commerce, 45% search, 5% other. Clients include Fish4Jobs,, Quotesearcher.

Blast Radius
Founded 2009. Subsidiary Wunderman Network. Managing director UK Julian Ormerod. 20% consultancy, 20% design/build, 10% mobile, 10% eCRM, 10% ads, 30% other. Clients include Bacardi, Starbucks, Nokia.

Founded 1968. Subsidiary Omnicom Group. Chief executive Stephen Woodford. 8% consultancy, 35% design/build, 10% mobile, 2% viral, 5% email, 40% ads. Clients include Volkswagen, Virgin Media, Unilever.


Marketing's digital leagues are compiled from forms sent direct to agencies. Turnover figures are for the calendar year of 2010 or the most recently completed financial year. Due to the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act, some agencies were unable to provide a breakdown of their figures for digital turnover, so we are unable to rank them in the table. Marketing takes care to publish accurate company data, but cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.