Making the Media, Interactive Grade

NEW YORK We’ve become a little more selective this year, as we chose just 10 interactive agencies to grade, down from 18 last year, in order to expand our analysis of each. In looking at the interactive agency landscape, we wanted to grade not just the largest agencies, but the ones that are defining the sector with the work they do.

Click here to view the 2006 interactive and media report cards.

More often than not, these are the agencies that will compete against one another on pitches. Numbers: In many cases, we are restating revenue numbers from 2005, to reflect more accurate figures, and dug deeper to come up with true revenue numbers for 2006. Then, with the help of Adweek financial columnist Alan Gottesman, we evaluate the agencies on revenue-to-staff ratio and revenue gains as compared with interactive-industry averages (this year’s aggregate average was about 25 percent) before determining a composite rank in both categories. Grades were determined for all 10 agencies. We also consider the revenue base for each agency in determining the grade. Naturally, if a shop has a large percentage increase in revenue, but is starting from a small base, its grade may not be as high as a larger agency with a smaller percentage increase. Wins and losses in this category are for retainer-based clients, unless otherwise noted. Creative: Grades are based on design, ease of navigation, user experience and the overall power of the marketing idea. They take into account more than the work described in each shop’s creative section; space limitations prevent us from going into greater detail. Emerging Media: A new category, which replaces the former “Technology.” This is where the continuing evolution of interactive advertising is most notable. Building microsites and running banner campaigns are no longer enough; clients are asking their agencies to help them push into new areas. We reward agencies for the boldness and success in doing so. Management: We rate how well executives run their business, including revenue growth versus competitors, personnel moves to and from the company, and strategic initiatives. We also consider what management has done to stay a step or two ahead in an ever-shifting market. The final grade: We use a numeric formula to average the other four marks.