Agency of the Year 2009: Best Search: iCrossing

A vital connection is made

It didn't matter how ugly the online ad industry got in 2009, iCrossing managed to shrug it off. Research firm eMarketer estimates companies spent $22.4 billion, down 4.6 percent from the prior year, for online advertising in the United States. And while online advertising declined in the first half of 2009, companies spent more on search marketing during the second half of the year. That became a distinct advantage for iCrossing, which has its roots in search engine marketing, but now offers much more. The ability to measure return on investment for clients also became an advantage.

iCrossing Don Scales says the company managed to help clients in travel and hospitality book about 6 million hotel rooms that generated more than $1.7 billion in revenue.

While other agencies struggled with how to get value out of social media, iCrossing demonstrated how a strategic approach that leverages multiple channels can provide higher returns. Scales calls it "connected brands." The ability to measure marketing strategies during tough economic times proved especially valuable this year.

"Taking insights from search behavior to develop a Web site takes specific skills and technology," says Scales. "Or using the same search insights to analyze metrics has its own unique set of challenges. And we have done well this year identifying them."

In 2009, iCrossing recorded the agency's greatest profitability in company history in Q2 and Q3 of 2009. Q4 is on track to be the agency's most profitable quarter yet. New accounts for 2009 include the Bermuda Ministry of Tourism, Home Shopping Network,, and Qwest. And, iCrossing's Net Promoter Score, which gauges client satisfaction, rose 33 percent in 2009. The score has more than doubled since the first survey was conducted in 2006.

So, iCrossing gets a thumbs-up for both its paid search and SEO offerings. The company beat out others in the space for its open-bid management platform, use of market mix models to aid enterprise paid search planning, and expertise in optimizing dynamic sites for natural search results.

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