I-agency adapts to provide metrics and research

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Matthew de Ganon is not your typical egghead. An actor in college at SUNY Purchase, where classmates included Stanley Tucci and Wesley Snipes, de Ganon first became a Hollywood talent agent and a Universal Pictures’ Motion Picture Group executive. A friend gave him a book about computer programming, and he became more interested in bits and bytes than scripts and contracts.

"When I went home at night, I was tinkering with Unix systems," de Ganon said.

A decade later, de Ganon is on the leading edge of Web development. He moved from the movie business to Marvel Entertainment Group Inc., where he turned a hobby into a profession as systems engineer, and became interested in digital asset management. From there, de Ganon joined K2 Digital Inc. in 1994 when there were but four employees at the interactive agency. Today, with more than 45 employees, the firm counts Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., OneSource Information Services Inc. and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. as b-to-b clients.

Web development has changed over the years, de Ganon said. Though K2 provides online marketing services, the company is not emphasizing those capabilities. "There’s a sharp reduction in interest for online marketing," de Ganon said. "Whether it is economics or that it has become a part of services offered by a traditional advertising agency, it is not an active area. The interest in squeezing return on investment from impressions is just not there."

K2 and other agencies are adapting, he said. K2 focuses on developing metrics for clients, testing the usability of graphical user interface and implementing tracking mechanisms to watch clients throughout their visit.

A hot area for K2 is assisting industrial companies that have completed mergers and acquisitions but have yet to standardize their data, de Ganon said. He expects that type of work to continue.

The company specializes in developing editorial publishing strategies, designing overarching information architecture and defining how communication should be conducted on the Internet. Its hallmark is research, including testing the way audiences respond to a Web site. Clients are more comfortable with the painstaking and time-consuming research process, de Ganon noted.

"There does not seem to be the sense of urgency at the expense of solid research," he said. "People are recognizing that the research process makes for a better Web site. It gives the site a better chance of surviving more than a few months." M

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