Best interactive agency

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In the space of four short years—a lifetime in terms of the digital age—Lot21 Inc. has built a solid reputation for being on the cutting edge of new media. The agency has received numerous awards and accolades for its innovative use of Internet technologies and its creative prowess.

Executives with Lot21 say the agency has survived the dot-com crash because of their belief in the power of interactive media as the way to strike up and maintain a dialogue with customers. Working with an array of b-to-b clients, they make very convincing arguments for trying new media techniques, sometimes as simple as urging CNet Networks Inc. to use color rather than grayscale for its first-ever wireless ads on the AvantGo Inc. mobile Internet service. However, the agency won’t push new technology simply for technology’s sake.

"[Lot 21 executives] focus on strategy and how they can use technology to meet our goals and objectives," said Lora Kaiser, Web marketing manager, Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose. "They are innovative and they do push the creative envelope, but they’re doing it only to achieve the efficiencies of the campaign and achieve the objectives of that campaign."

Adobe Systems is a relatively new client of Lot 21’s, having signed with the agency last fall. Already, there have been a handful of campaigns, with ad units placed for the first time on various Web sites that "have produced exceptional results for us," Kaiser said. "Just as Adobe provides innovative Web and print technology products, we’re teaming with an agency … that enhances that [image] on the Web and in print."

The b-to-b sector should account for 40% of the agency’s projected $20 million in revenues this year. Lot21’s major clients include Bank of America Corp., CNet, Intraware Inc., PeopleSoft Inc., and Seagate Technology L.L.C.

The steady growth of the agency’s b-to-b clientele is a mark of its ability to extend and deepen customer relationships through interactive media.

Holistic innovation

"Our success to date is due to our continued commitment to innovation," said Eric Wheeler, Lot21 president-COO. "We take a very holistic approach, incorporating all of the different disciplines of advertising—whether [it’s] CRM practices, sales collateral, or re-architecture and redesign of Web sites—and figure out how we’re going to use all of that to speak to [the client’s] target audience."

"I think what we bring to clients is an integration of all of the various elements, whether it’s creative or media, and how that affects the customer-company relationship," said Mark Stephens, director-media services. "We look at the relationship, at the dialogue, that the company is trying to achieve. Then we bring in digital elements and discuss how they will help achieve goals. … It’s only by working through the entire process with them that we’re able to produce a campaign that meets their true objectives."

Increasingly, Lot21 executives are asked by b-to-b clients to put together comprehensive, interactive programs that engage existing customers on multiple contact points, as well as to help them acquire new ones at a much lower cost. That’s where Lot21 leverages the digital space to its greatest extent.

"They are one of the last top-tier independent interactive advertising agencies left," said Rudy Grahn, an analyst in the online advertising practice of Jupiter Media Metrix Inc., New York. "In part, that’s due to the emphasis they’ve placed on the b-to-b space. But it’s also because Internet advertising has some unique dynamics and they’ve always been on top of it. Those who have the longest tenure in the b-to-b space … tend to be the ones that retain the cutting edge and retain the advantage."

"What we believe separates Lot21 … is we have a commitment to push for success in every way possible," Lot 21’s Wheeler said. "We embody the digital marketing experience. And we put it to work for clients, everyday, with a passion."

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