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Best Media Agency: Avenue A/Razorfish

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From portals to verticals and rich media to search, online advertising has evolved at a breakneck pace. For anticipating, and in many cases accelerating, online media buying and planning with its own innovations, Avenue A/ Razorfish is Advertising Age's Best Interactive Media Agency.

"We stayed very committed to online advertising through the down market in 2001 and 2002 and continued to innovate and invest in tools and technologies," says Jeff Lanctot, Avenue A/Razorfish VP-media and client services, and lead author of its "2005 Online Media Outlook" report. "Now, the industry has experienced a rebirth, and we came out of it with years of experience in data and analytics and a well-established and well-tested media planning team. It's OK to love online again."

Avenue A's simple truth is that: "This stuff works," says Clark Kokich, Avenue A/Razorfish's worldwide president. "The benefit of all the investment we made is our ability to measure the impact of campaigns for our clients and deliver on the extraordinarily high ROI of online advertising."

For Levi Strauss & Co., Avenue A created an online campaign called "Find your style" that ran on sites such as Tickle.com.

The gender-targeted ads allowed users to try out different jean styles virtually with men and women seeing different gender-specific jeans in the same space.

WeightWatchers.com literally built its business with Avenue A. The site has worked with the agency for five years across multiple approaches with a straightforward goal: drive customer acquisitions and build the business, says Sean Foster, VP-marketing for WeightWatchers.com. Avenue A helped it stay ahead, says Mr. Foster. Competitors were quick to copy the site's media buying strategies, he says, so Avenue A had to stay ahead with approaches including portal deals, search buys and behavioral advertising, he says.

Avenue A was a huge part of our success, Mr. Foster says, claiming the strategy helped deliver 2 million sign-ups. "They think about my business as a business person would," he says. "They live and breathe my business, and go to battle for me every day."

Walt Disney World applauds the agency's rich creative, innovative partnerships with publishers and almost-instant feedback with campaign metrics, says Linda Warren, Disney's exec VP-marketing and brand management.

For Disney, Avenue A delivered several large, high-impact campaigns, including "The Happiest Celebration on Earth," marking Disney World's 50th anniversary. The campaign included a New Year's Day roadblock on major media sites and included a good supply of rich media ads.

"We had phenomenal results," says Ms. Warren, including above-average clickthrough rates and ad interaction times averaging 30-60 seconds, multiples above industry averages. She adds, "Avenue A has been getting us on the right sites and adding uniqueness. It's great to have eyes and ears out in this [fast-moving] environment like we get with Avenue A."

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