360i Adds i33 Block To Its Building Of Full-Service Shop

As was first reported by MediaPost on Monday, 360i has cemented its position as a full-service digital agency with the acquisition of Web design and social application specialist i33 Communications.

"I33's team will help us develop more distributed media applications like widgets and Facebook applications, which tie into the back end of marketers' campaigns," said 360i CEO Bryan Wiener.

Long a metrics-driven agency utilizing search techniques, 360i has been building itself into a full-service shop--offering media planning and buying services, along with social media and application development.

What Wiener calls 360i's brand of "search informed marketing" appears to be paying off.

A slew of media clients--including NBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Discovery, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Food Network, HGTV and USA Network--rely on 360i to drive traffic to their site with a mix of search, social media, and distributed media applications.

Perhaps more significantly, books and entertainment retailer Borders recently named 360i as its interactive agency of record, tapping the shop for search, display and emerging media responsibilities.

Why i33? First, the 40-person, New York-based shop boasts a roster of top clients, including Adidas, PBS, and Target. Secondly, the two agencies have worked well together on various projects in the past, Wiener said.

Also, like 360i, i33 bases its biggest decisions on measurable results. Finally, Wiener believes that i33 perfectly represents the ad agency of the future, as the majority of its staff are developers rather that creative designers.

"All campaigns start with an idea, but you need more developers than designers today to execute and distribute those ideas effectively," Wiener said.

The acquisition of i33 also marks further consolidation in an ad industry where independent agencies have become scarce. Publicis Groupe arguably sounded their death knell in December 2006 with its agreement to buy online and direct marketing shop Digitas.

Last year, in response to Google's plan to buy DoubleClick, Microsoft took Avenue A|Razorfish off the market with its acquisition of aQuantive. Also, last summer, WPP Group's G2 Worldwide acquired Refinery.

The last of the independents include AKQA, Wieden+Kennedy and imc2 -- all privately held--along with the publicly traded Sapient, followed by smaller shops, including Glow Interactive, IQ Interactive, Slingshot, and Greater Than One.

Currently, 360i has more than 200 employees, but those numbers can change quickly in this business as was demonstrated last summer when 360i rival iCrossing more than doubled in size overnight--from 200 to 550 staffers--when it acquired Web development agency Proxicom.

I33 will hold onto its name while joining with 360i's resources to form the agency's digital development unit.

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