To meet its targets, it focused on core clients. Agency sales teams were restructured, creating category specialists, and decision-making became decentralised. This enabled Freeserve to be more creative and proactive for its bigger clients.
For 20th Century Fox, Freeserve created a new DVD channel, gave editorial coverage across its portal and developed special offers through the Freeserve customer newsletter. It also commissioned a joint research project with Fox.
With Charcol online, it produced an offline guide to mortgages after research found that web users like to research mortgages online but value personal contact. Freeserve and Charcol also shared offline advertising spend to promote freeserve.com/mortgages.
Work with the credit card brand Marbles is another example of Freeserve "no longer just selling". Leveraging the brand loyalty of Freeserve customers, it produced a jointly branded credit card with Marbles and claims it is set to exceed acquisition targets by 15 per cent.
Spend from Freeserve's top ten direct clients has leapt 130 per cent year on year, while spend from its top ten agencies is up 190 per cent year on year. Average deal size was also up, by 13 per cent.
Freeserve also pledged to improve customer service. It boosted its sales support team by 40 per cent and introduced Guaranteed Service Level Agreements with major buying points. These agreements gave preferential access to its research and new advertising products. It also doubled its research team to deliver bespoke planning solutions.
Finally, Freeserve sought to grow revenues by building better relationships.
Its research team undertook a variety of projects that helped its clients understand the medium and plan online campaigns better. It also held "accelerator" training days - educational seminars given by Freeserve experts. For hospitality, Freeserve ditched the "just a few beers" option and treated clients to more exotic events such as Robbie Williams in Paris.
The portal "destroyed" its growth targets for the year. Sales were up by 54 per cent and its annual revenue target for 2003 was hit by August.
Its plaudits reflect a lucrative year. "It's very refreshing to have a media owner communicating, not just selling," Ruth Barton, a senior planner at Outrider, said.
Capital Radio Group's aims for the year were to boost its share of all media and radio revenue by becoming more client-focused. It referred to its strategy as "fishing where the fish are feeding" - gunning for clients in categories that will deliver the most revenue and dealing with them directly. Capital also sought to promote the potential for great creative in radio campaigns. The group has grown its potential and established business year on year by 8 per cent compared with radio industry growth of just 0.5 per cent in 2003.