“It does not help the industry to call it online and traditional media,” says Dorf in explaining why the Internet often gets shortchanged on most plans. “In the ideal world that is, for brands with significant budgets the Internet should be on most every plan. That goes for both branding campaigns and, especially, direct response ones.”
Today, AMS Interactive Media accounts for about 10% of AMS's $70 million in media billings, which would rank it in the top 50 of all interactive agencies. “We are a boutique shop,” says Dorf. “Our sweet spot is a $5 million-to-$10 million account.” It is a fairly small shop, with only 10 people in the AMS Washington, D.C., office and two people in the newly opened New York field office. “We succeed because we have seasoned professionals doing the work, not entry-level buyers making buys. We are a media management firm first; we don¹t have creative or tech guys here,” says Dorf. The agency does, however, work with full-service shops like Mullen and The Martin Agency as well as creative shops, freelancers, and its clients in-house teams.
As media buying agencies go, AMS¹s billings are certainly on the smaller side compared with heavyweights like Carat, Initiative, and Horizon. But they feel that whatever they may lack in buying clout they make up with buying smarts. A good illustration are the buys that AMS Interactive Media has done for uDate.com, over the past three years. Early on, when uDate.com was a new online dating service and barely known in the U.S. market, AMS was asked to increase brand name recognition and lower the overall cost per acquisition of new registered members. AMS developed a full-scale interactive effort to drive registrations using a variety of portals, networks, and destination sites. Utilizing optimization technology, within two months uDate.com went from 2,000 to 6,000 registrations daily. It dramatically reduced the cost per acquisition by identifying the appropriate sites and continually optimizing the campaign. Consequently, uDate.com has become the number two online dating service in the world.
Other current clients include Career Builder.com, Inventors Help Line, Dietwatch.com, Knight Ridder Digital, Tribune Interactive, Precision Tune Auto Care, REMAX Realty for the Mid-Atlantic, and the publishing houses for Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Michael Crichton.