This is definitely the start of something. It might seem odd to say
that at this stage, when we are three or four years into the new- media
revolution but, from an agency’s perspective, 1999 - and the latter half
of the year in particular - was of great significance. The new-media
agency picture finally came into focus, making now the right time for
Campaign to launch this report on the top players.
Last year was all about mergers and acquisitions and the formation of
new international networks. We also saw a clearer definition emerge of
what it is that new-media agencies or consultancies do.
In the past year, we have witnessed the trend for agencies to converge
their new-media offerings and position themselves as one-stop shops or
full-service agencies. This allowed them to offer everything from a
strategic consulting service, through online media planning and buying,
to website development, design and building. It might be that some of
these elements are outsourced, but the key factor is that these
companies are marketing themselves as able to provide a complete
new-media community package.
Internationally, we saw the Interpublic Group bring all of its new-media
assets together as Zentropy (what was APL Digital and Shandwick
Interactive in the UK). Interpublic was followed by the likes of
Cordiant - which formed CCG.XM out of its international new-media
operations and rebranded Bates Interactive in the UK- and Snyder, which
created Circle.com from Brann Interactive in Bristol and London.
In the US, three of the larger global players - Agency.com, Organic and
Razorfish - all filed for their initial public offerings. On this side
of the Atlantic, many agencies grew apace and, at the same time, some of
the smaller shops were snapped up by their larger rivals, changing the
landscape further. For example, Szyzgy went international and Ogilvy
Interactive purchased Noho Digital.
This consolidation in the market clearly influenced the timing of this
report. Like Campaign’s top 300 agency report, the top new-media
agencies league is to be an annual feature and one that will undoubtedly
become a useful barometer for the industry.The report is being launched
not just at an important time for the industry but at an important time
for Campaign too. It coincides with the launch of a new three-page
weekly section in Campaign that focuses on the new-media industry.
The league is a guide to some of the biggest and most important UK
new-media agencies and where they sit in relation to their rivals.
The report includes a profile section that highlights 20 agencies in
detail, analysing their new-business record and taking a glance at how
they may perform in the future. The shops that fall under the spotlight
will not necessarily be the biggest in the industry but will be among
the most high-profile players. There are a number of notable new-media
agencies that were unable or unwilling to provide UK income and so are
not in the ranking. These include Modem Media, Agency.com, IXL, March
First, Circle.com and Icon Medialab.
Aside from the strategic and creative agencies, this report also takes a
look at the new-media buying specialists such as Media21, Profero and
i-level, which recently recruited the advertising big hitter John Bartle
as its chairman. It is worth separating these shops from the new-media
creative agencies to reflect the fact that they have formed their own
new-media community already.
We must not forget the new-media technology, however. This is a
technology-enabled business and, with the UK at the centre of the
European digital boom, this is reflected in the strength of the UK
new-media agency sector. Wireless application protocol, digital and
interactive television have all become integral parts of the new-media
agency lexicon in the past 12 months. These are areas where UK
businesses are strong and, consequently, UK agencies have excelled in
becoming among the first to launch mobile and WAP units. Clearly, there
is much to celebrate.