In the 10 years I've been involved with the annual selection of OMMA's Agency of the Year Awards, I've watched the nature of digital agencies evolve, and these awards along with them. In the early days, digital agencies were defined by the media they influenced - online display advertising, Web sites, search, and increasingly social and mobile platforms.
Success means doing better than before or achieving something desired. In business, some call it winning. This year, San Diego-based search agency Covario can boast it won the OMMA Search Agency of The Year title for a third consecutive time, even though it made a long list of changes to the organization.
To hear most agency heads tell it, firms must be physically present in the lives of their clients. If that means opening a satellite office in East Jabib to accommodate the client recently relocated to the region, well, so be it. Serve the client, at all costs, always. Perpetually be at the ready in the event the client, say, needs some late-night hand-holding, or perhaps needs to borrow some flour.
For MediaVest, 2013 was a year of big client wins, big new industry partnerships and a relentless pursuit of new insights that helped the agency and clients better understand the forces driving consumer behavior. For those accomplishments the shop has been named OMMA magazine's Media Planning and Buying Agency of the Year.
For Manhattan-based MRY, OMMA's Agency of the Year: Social, 2013 could have been a year of just getting the internal alphabet straight. Earlier this year, the Publicis Groupe shop saw through a merger that was big stakes for a company of only 200 people: swallowing up a bigger, and more corporate, fish - the U.S. operations of LBi. The 300-employee LBi operation, best known for its work in back-end specialties like CRM, might have seemed a laborious fit for the cheeky MRY, an agency that until 2012 had been known as - no one over 30 need apply - Mr. …
If you want to experience firsthand how SapientNitro is different from other agencies, wait until you're thirsty, seek out one of their smile-activated vending machines, stand in front of it, and grin. You will be rewarded by a dispensed can of soda, so you literally drink in the difference.
Always a perennial in the areas of design. creativity and digital technology development, OMMA is recognizing Digitaria as its "Silver" agency of the year for becoming more of a "full-service" shop. While continuing to excel in those best-in-class areas, Digitaria upped its game in two crucial areas for digital agencies - analytics and social - and pulled something off that even some of Madison Avenue's biggest shops haven't figured out quite how to do: transition into the even higher end service industry of management consulting. Sure plenty of Madison Avenue shops have proclaimed themselves "business consultants" in recent years, even …
Normally, OMMA bases its annual agency of the year selection on the most innovative things done by an agency during the 12-months leading up to our pick. For this year's winner 360i, the process began at least 24-months ago, when we met with CEO Bryan Wiener and the rest of his top management team, in preparation for our 2012 process. In the end, we didn't select 360i that year, but Wiener planted a seed in our head, asserting. "I don't think agencies, as we know them, will exist in another couple of years."