Croud turned heads in February 2020 when it unveiled Jerry Buhlmann as its non-executive chairman.
But the decision by co-founders Luke Smith and Ben Knight to bring on board the former global chief executive of Dentsu Aegis Network appears to have paid off as Croud went on to have a storming 2020 and is a worthy winner of Performance Marketing Agency of the Year.
In a challenging 12 months, it grew its headcount, strengthened relationships with existing clients including IWG, Eventbrite, Avon, Axa IM and The North Face, and expanded its client base, enabling the UK business to grow by 31% year on year.
Croud also invested in innovation with new tools and technology. One such example is “Casey”, a gender-inclusive language checker that works like a spellchecker but for inconsiderate use of language instead of misspelt words. The tool was rolled out across Croud and was shared with clients. Its “Da Vinci” creative intelligence tech – a machine-learning-powered tool that directs the design of creative assets for programmatic display advertising – delivered huge increases in click-through rates for one client.
Throughout 2020, the agency team’s wellbeing was a key focus, with several initiatives launched to support employees during uncertain times. It also implemented a diversity and inclusion agenda and charter, as well as running several internal and external events to keep
staff and clients engaged and up to speed on the latest
Judges praised Croud as an example of a business that has continued to grow its team, its client base and innovate during Covid.
Merkle takes the silver after realigning its business around customer experience management, enabling brands to unify consumer touchpoints across adtech, martech, sales and service tech to good effect last year. Such a proposition helped the Dentsu shop deliver innovation and performance in challenging times, fusing technology with media, underpinned by data capabilities.