The Best Interactive Agencies

"We see the 'e' in media" has been MEDIA Magazine's tagline since its inception almost two years ago. Not only does it mean we see the electronic or interactive possibilities of the media industry, but we also see the excellence in work that interactive agencies are striving for in the online advertising marketplace. And with the challenges facing our young industry, we thought it was important to formally acknowledge the excellence of several agencies with MEDIA Magazine’s first ever gold, silver, and bronze "e" awards for Best Interactive Agencies of 2001.

We asked MediaDarwin President Jim Meskauskas, in his own insightful and sometimes-irreverent way, to pen the profiles on this year’s winners. Jim says, "innovative and original work was done throughout 2001 by agencies that have committed themselves to the digital marketing space with passion that belies economics or safe-bet philosophies. There were shops out there, and folks within them, that helped keep our industry alive and show that being down never means being out."

The seven winners of the first annual "e" awards represent a diverse collection of interactive agencies. Some are divisions of, or affiliated with, big traditional shops. Others are large, standalone, full-service interactive agencies. Still others are small agencies with bright and enthusiastic people trying to make a name for themselves with innovative media buying strategies or eye-opening, memorable creative. However, they all have one thing in common—they have been recognized by a panel of a dozen distinguished agency executives and the editorial board of MEDIA Magazine for their excellent work in 2001.

Heading up the class of 2001 is OgilvyInteractive, which receives the gold "e" for Agency of the Year to recognize its excellence in all phases of interactive advertising.

The silver "e" as runner-up for top honors goes to Digitas, one of the largest standalone interactive agencies. Digitas is a great example of an agency that truly tries to marry media and technology to enhance the value of customer relationship. In addition to the gold and silver awards for overall excellence, we felt a series of bronze "e" awards were warranted to acknowledge distinguished work specifically in online media planning/buying or creative. For more about MEDIA's "e" awards, see the January issue, out now.

Lastly, we are unveiling MEDIA’s first ever ranking of the Top 50 interactive agencies. The ranking is the first comprehensive listing of both traditional agencies and interactive shops to be based exclusively on online media billings, rather than revenue or billings from traditional media. Along with valuable information like the size of the agency and client listing, we exclusively examine the kind of online advertising the agency is doing. We break down the percentage of online dollars billed by planning/buying, search engine optimization, affiliate marketing, web development/hosting, creative, and so on. This is the first detailed look at what is happening at interactive agencies.

Thanks to all the agencies for participating and providing "numbers" they have never given to other listings in the past. Congratulations to all the "e" award recipients and to all the agencies that made it through a tough 2001. You are all winners in our eyes.

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