INTERACTIVE 100 SETS NEW STAGE

Published on .

Most Popular
Turn to this week's Interactive 100 Special Report to read about the boom in interactive marketing agencies, many of which are growing so fast they cannot find enough qualified employees to keep up with demand. (Visit the Web sites listed on Page S-4 if you're looking for a good job.)

But turn to Page S-3 for a more intriguing tale: The No. 1 player on the Interactive 100, USWeb/CKS, is looking to buy some traditional agency "hot shops." USWeb/CKS already owns one advertising agency, McKinney & Silver in North Carolina. But in a world where pure Internet businesses are the rage on Wall Street, USWeb/CKS bets it will have a brighter future by supplementing its rocketing Internet business with a bigger play in the slower-growing field of traditional advertising.

USWeb/CKS believes what a few smart traditional agencies, such as Ogilvy & Mather, already have learned: Part of the future must involve integrating traditional advertising with interactive marketing.

The Internet, amid the hype and various dubious IPOs that would make P.T. Barnum proud, is changing all the rules. Our Special Report looks at how marketers are choosing partners to tie together communications, e-commerce and business processes.

There's a wide net of contenders offering bits and pieces of the solution-the market's hardly settled out. Even USWeb/CKS and O&M, often held up as examples of savvy Web forces from the new and old worlds, are still figuring out the game; the respected Forrester Research gives both mediocre grades.

But marketing, advertising and technology converge with the Internet. USWeb/CKS is on the right track in wanting to own all pieces of the puzzle. The giants of Madison Avenue still have a chance to succeed in this broader space if they are willing to pay to play. A Jupiter Communications analyst, pondering mergers of Internet powers and big ad agencies, asks: "Who's going to assume the leadership role?"