1. BEN LANGDON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, DIGITAL MARKETING GROUP.
Ben Langdon ranked 10th in our list of power players last year - but his company was only about six months old. One year on, he is living up to his "ruthless" reputation. He is a true power player with a single-minded focus for his operation: to become the pre-eminent digital direct marketing group in the UK. The company remained in acquisition mode over the past 12 months, buying digital creative agencies Hyperlaunch and Graphico for a combined £12m. Langdon aims to offer the complete suite of skills at DMG - and he doesn't underestimate the importance of data for truly interactive digital marketing. "Many agencies in London simply try to be advertising agencies," he says. "The real power is in the data you capture - that's why we bought Jaywing."
With recorded pre-tax profits of almost £6m in the 12 months to March 2008, the company has achieved a lot in a short space of time, winning Digital Direct Marketing Services Supplier of the Year 2007 at the Connect Awards.
2. PETER RILEY, FOUNDER AND CREATIVE PARTNER, 20:20 GROUP
Last year, Peter Riley ranked fourth in our list of 10 digital direct power players. Since then 20:20 Group has continued to innovate, and has been rewarded for its efforts. Laughing at comments about his "healthy ego" ("Well, my Mum says it's true ..."), Riley and his group has been courted by many large agencies in recent months.
Over the past year, 20:20 has won a place on the COI roster and led the digital strategy and creative work for the Department for Children, Schools and Families' teenage pregnancy and safe sex campaign. It also won the brief to launch the Terminator TV show on Virgin 1, while its work for PlayStation has notched up awards including a Cannes Lion and two DMA Golds. Meanwhile, Riley converted a Grade 2-listed East End church to house the company, and says he has currently got his eye on another property.
3. MARK PATRON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, RED EYE
Veteran direct marketer Mark Patron is proof that data geeks can make the best digital gurus. As CEO of online marketing company Red Eye, he is championing the integration of traditional DM principles with digital approaches. His passion for bringing measurability and accountability into the online arena was pivotal in Red Eye sales reaching £4.4m last year, up from £1.7m in 2005. Red Eye was also listed in The Sunday Times' Tech Track 100 league table in 2007, confirming its position as one of the fastest-growing new technology companies in the UK. After 14 years at Claritas, now Acxiom, and having launched DMjobs.co.uk, Patron always has his finger in numerous pies and is described as a "master of reinvention" and a "serial entrepreneur" by peers. "He just keeps coming back for more," says one.
4. JOHN BAKER, JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, IRIS DIGITAL
There is no doubt that John Baker is a heavyweight in the world of digital DM. Previously head of digital at OgilvyOne, and now joint MD of Iris Digital, his unassuming manner belies enormous industry knowledge and know-how. At OgilvyOne, Baker was a member of the management partner team that won Campaign's Direct Agency of the Year - in large part due to its strength in digital marketing. Not content with routinely winning business from digital pure-plays, he oversaw the introduction of an email marketing group and the hiring of Skip Fedura, ex-director of European operations at Digital Impact, to lead the initiative. Baker says he was attracted by Iris's "entrepreneurial nature" - and that he is looking forward to "big growth".
5. LAZAR DZAMIC, PLANNING DIRECTOR, KITCATT NOHR ALEXANDER SHAW
In late 2007, Lazar Dzamic was appointed planning director at Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw, which has won a raft of awards in recent months, including runner-up in Campaign's Direct Agency of the Year and two DMA golds. The agency tells us its profits grew by 81 per cent between 2006 and 2007, while a series of pitch wins have included The Carphone Warehouse, Britannia, Glenfiddich and National Savings & Investments. Recognised as the agency's digital "thought leader" and a true strategist, Dzamic has overseen the company's digital billings grow to account for more than 30 per cent of total revenue.
6. AMY LENNOX, PARTNER, TRINITY COMMUNICATIONS
At 32, Amy Lennox, co-founder of media planning specialist Trinity Communications, has much to boast about. Listed recently in Media Week's "Thirty under thirty" feature, and narrowly missing first place as runner up of the magazine's Award for Young Media Person of the Year back in 2004, early signs of promise are now bearing fruit.
With 10 years' experience of planning and buying online media, Lennox - formerly head of digital at IMD Group - has taken the helm of digital at Trinity, which has won 10 clients in nine months and notched up billings of over £12m. Brands already on board include New Look, WWF and The Salvation Army, and Trinity is growing fast: staff numbers have doubled in the past three months and income has grown tenfold since its launch last July.
7. EMMA WILSON, DIRECTOR, HARVEST DIGITAL
Emma Wilson, now 29, set up Harvest Digital with two male partners in her early twenties. Described as a "powerhouse" with a fierce determination to drive the bottom line, peers also say she has a firm grasp of the best way to integrate media channels. Wilson has been credited with developing the website design arm of the business and has featured in Media Week's "Thirty under thirty" feature. Working alongside her, planning director Mike Teasdale describes Emma as "the scary one".
8. CHRIS HAWKEN, BRAND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, AUDI
Automotive marketing genie Chris Hawken is clearly working his magic at Audi. Direct response digital media spend doubled between 2007 and 2008, and Audi has won a raft of gongs in recent months, including Best Interactive and Best Microsite at the British Interactive Media Association awards. Following on from this, agency Good Technology, with which Audi has been working for 11 years, notched up Revolution's Agency of the Year award in March.
Web traffic has grown significantly since 2007 - with an increase in unique visitors to audi.co.uk of over 20 per cent. A down-to-earth approach coupled with long-standing expertise in his sector means that Audi owner Volkswagen is more than happy to let Hawken manage hefty budgets.
9. KEVIN CORNILS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BUY.AT
Affiliate marketing has seen enormous growth in the past 12 months and the space is becoming increasingly sophisticated. This process is being aided by Kevin Cornils. At 35, the CEO of affiliate network Buy.at has seen turnover increase by 70 per cent in the past year and revenues explode to £27m. The size of the company has doubled within a year, and clients include high-profile brands such as Sky, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. Having grown the European market in online dating, in a previous role as MD of Match.com, Cornils is making waves in the affiliate space. We will be interested to see what he achieves under the AOL umbrella now that Buy.at is part of the group.
10. BARRY HOULIHAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MOBILE INTERACTIVE GROUP
With Google's CEO Eric Schmidt predicting a "huge revolution" in mobile web technology, Barry Houlihan, managing director of Mobile Interactive Group (MIG), is well placed to benefit from any seismic shift. His company, which specialises in mobile marketing services, video and interactive events, has evolved from six people in 2005 to 70 today - and it is growing fast. Peers say that MIG's initiatives are shaping much of mobile direct response, and that Houlihan's enthusiasm is infectious. Turnover in 2007 approached £30m - and 2008's figure is expected to show a substantial increase on this.
In recent months, MIG secured a contract with O2 to support its customer acquisition strategy. Other clients include Honda, McDonald's, Scottish Widows and Autotrader. With brands waking up to the medium, budgets increasing and predictions that 2008 will be the year of the mobile, this year may well be MIG's biggest yet.