Indie media shop Crossmedia has a new London outpost and a new global agency of record client: Vacation rental marketplace HomeAway, the Austin-based Airbnb competitor acquired by Expedia in late 2015.
Crossmedia was founded in Germany in 1997, with its U.S. outpost co-founded by Kamran Asghar and Martin Albrecht three years later. Though the agency is global agency of record for a handful of German-based clients, HomeAway represents its first global media AOR client resulting from a formal review. HomeAway previously worked with Publicis Media-owned Blue 449 for its media.
In the last 12 months, the agency says it has picked up media agency of record business from Advanced Auto Parts, Nordstrom Rack, Jagermeister, Nascar and a slew of other companies. Those clients, Asghar says, are looking for something deeper than rates.
"The clients that we're winning right now are putting so much more of a value on outcome than they are on the transactional part of media, and I think we're starting to see some ... cracks in the foundation of this old idea about, 'Well, I must give my money to the big guys because they get the best rates,'" Asghar says. "It's a great sign for our industry that independence matters and that they're looking for an alternative solution to what's in the market."
Albrecht says the agency realized there was an appetite for that approach beyond Crossmedia's bases in the U.S. and Germany, but though the agency has done international work, it didn't think it was on the radar of many global clients. That was the impetus for starting the London office, which will be led by managing director Tony Williams, who joined from OMD.
HomeAway has executives in London handling brand marketing and media, so Crossmedia can work with their team on global strategy from there. The agency plans to hire two people for the HomeAway account in London and may relocate other employees there for other work.
And the size of the business seems likely to pick up: Despite a tough third quarter for Expedia, HomeAway accounted for $305 million in revenue and saw a 45 percent increase year-over-year in the third quarter. In the third-quarter earnings call, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom said they'll be investing more into paid media.
"Given solid progress at HomeAway, we plan to lean even more heavily than anticipated earlier this year into paid marketing channels, a trend we expect to continue through 2018," he said.
Expedia spent $13.2 million on measured marketing on HomeAway in the U.S. in 2016, according to Kantar Media. It spent $14.9 million between January and September of 2017.
Hal Pearson, HomeAway's senior director of global brand media added in a statement that Crossmedia's "genuine commitment to operational transparency clearly stood out."