IXL: Despite client list, iXL lacks marketing vision

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ixl burst onto the interactive marketing scene with a handful of accounts that, coupled with its back-end and systems integration offerings, have made it a key player in Internet professional services.

Although iXL would be the first to deny it should be grouped with more creative- and advertising-focused shops such as OgilvyInteractive and Organic, the company says it clearly is a contender against those interactive shops.

"Most interactive marketing companies focus almost exclusively on advertising services. IXL's iMS (interactive marketing services) group is able to provide a full range of solutions," says Jonathan Ballon, chief marketing officer. "Our belief is that we must provide end-to-end services for our customers, from strategy through development and implementation of an online offering."


"IXL has placed its bets on building large, long-term strategic relationships with our clients," he says. "We do not build simple brochure-ware Web sites. It is about innovating their entire business, not just a single customer touch point."

Mr. Ballon points to iXL's largest account, General Electric Co. IXL has delivered more than 50 projects across 15 business units of GE, an iXL investor. One example was Polymerland, a business-to-business project that combined GE's plastics distribution business with its direct-supply business.

"This gives GE customers a speed and productivity they historically never had," Mr. Ballon says. "We are very proud of this effort, as sales at Polymerland have grown from essentially zero to more than $5 million per week and growing."

IXL also expanded its relationship with Virgin Atlantic from the reservations system for the airline to the worldwide parent, Virgin Group.

"Together we will bring many wide-ranging businesses online, covering everything from travel to financial services into a single point of contact for Virgin customers around the world -- Virgin.com," Mr. Ballon says.


Moving forward, Mr. Ballon says iXL will focus resources on building its enterprise-relationship management and wireless competencies, as well as its digital media and broadband offerings.

"We are also focusing on improving internal programs in a number of areas -- marketing, recruitment and retention," says Mr. Ballon.

IXL is growing fast in the U.S. and abroad, with first-quarter revenue tripling to $103 million -- and with its loss, happily, shrinking. But investors are cautious. IXL's stock in mid-June was down about 75% from its January peak. You can learn more at the cleanly revamped site of financial site Edgar Online (edgaronline.com) -- "developed and designed," the site notes, "by iXL."

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