Search/Performance Agency Of The Year: iProspect

Dentsu did something few thought it would accomplish this year. The holding company merged Merkle's media capabilities into iProspect, a performance creative agency.

2023 has been a transformative year for search marketers, with generative artificial intelligence (GAI) becoming the technology to drive automation.

Companies took huge steps to supplement data being taken away by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others based on government regulations to protect consumers. Agencies have attempted to fill those voids with technology.

Despite the potential in combining two of the most successful agencies within Dentsu, there has been some grumbling across the ad industry that the two are struggling to find their footing. It's similar to running a three-legged race and crossing the finish line without falling.

The new iProspect is supported by more than 600 U.S.-based paid and organic search-marketing professionals who manage about $2 billion in search media for more than 100 clients.

But the company’s size and number of employees are not solely driving the efforts. Technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and partnerships with Google and Microsoft contribute.

A partnership announced earlier this year with Microsoft saw the agency launch enterprise-wide access to advanced Azure OpenAI technologies. It brought the power of ChatGPT into the iProspect platforms.

The agency, which recognizes security and legal risks, is thoroughly invested in integrating GAI. It goes to great lengths to protect clients and their customers, and teaches the agency’s employees how, when and where to use the technology to improve experiences and advertising performance.  

iProspect has also expanded its partnership with Google Cloud’s GAI tools in Vertex AI and Duet AI to focus development on AI-driven applications that will improve customer experiences, including Merkle’s GenCX solution.

Partnerships are important, but data powers the AI-based technologies, which is one reason that MediaPost chose iProspect as the Search Agency of the Year in 2023. That strength in data has led iProspect to co-engineer products with Google and Microsoft.

Other agencies do this too, as thought leaders. This year, GroupM co-engineered products with Amazon. NP Digital grew its client base by 72%, supported by more than 750 employees in 19 offices worldwide and more than 1,000 clients. Tinuiti worked with Amazon to test a QR code streamed on TV ads for Toms, a shoe line, that consumers could download from the TV for discounts on products. 

Mathew Mierzejewski, head of activation, iProspect, calls the team “data nerds.” It’s that love and understanding of what data can do, and what it cannot, that sets the team apart from others despite all the innovation across the industry in 2023.

The new agency created by the merger of Merkle and iProspect surpassed MediaPost metrics based on the understanding of data, innovation in AI, growth, partnerships built with platforms, and willingness to find new ways to replace information for clients removed by the platforms such as Google and Microsoft.

In September, iProspect launched d.SCRIPTOR, a proprietary tool allowing paid-search experts to leverage AI to assist with ad-copy development.

The new tool, which is only available to iProspect clients, can be used across any search platform to unlock creative messaging opportunities that drive improved engagement rates, increase the velocity and scale of experimentation, and reduce the time required to perform optimization tasks by up to 80%.

d.SCRIPTOR allows iProspect to use AI to speed processes and scale output while maintaining reliance on humans to balances the checkmarks.

It is another example of purpose-built performance that fills a void in the marketplace while adding to iProspect’s own future-focused suite of AI products to better leverage evolving AI ad solutions introduced by platforms.


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