Internet Agency Wades Into Web 2.0

After establishing itself as a leader in the Internet’s first wave, Avenue A/Razorfish is retooling for the Web 2.0 era: It has formed a new unit devoted to emerging technologies. It’s the latest agency to set aside resources to figure out the fast-changing digital media landscape.

Called Advanced Marketing Solutions, the small unit will share agency experiences in areas like interactive video, mobile, gaming and social networking across the Avenue A/Razorfish network of agencies in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia and China. Bruce Woolsey, a nine-year agency vet who was managing director of client results for Avenue A/Razorfish West, will lead the group.

“The willingness [of clients] to experiment with emerging media has gone up dramatically,” said Clark Kokich, worldwide president of aQuantive’s Avenue A/Razorfish. “I think that’s a reflection of clients realizing that traditional advertising channels will be challenged in the future.”

The unit is meant as a scout team that will work with emerging media platforms to establish standards in new forms of advertising. Faced with the unrelenting pace of digital change, several agencies have units to manage their responses. IPG has an Emerging Media Lab, while Publicis Groupe spun out a new-media consultancy, Denuo. WPP Group’s OgilvyInteractive set up a separate innovations unit, and Digitas and Omnicom’s Organic have named emerging-media execs.

“We’ve done a great job of innovating,” Kokich said, citing work done in interactive video for Levi’s and initiatives in mobile, podcasting and video on demand. “We need to do a better job of taking that learning and spreading across the network.”

Interactive video is a key focus for the unit, Woolsey said, such as new ad models beyond repurposed TV commercials inserted before content. “If we don’t figure that out, the industry is going to suffer,” he added. “We won’t get those TV dollars we’re salivating over.”