Special Report: Maggie Boyer

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Even though shes the winner of BtoBs "Up-and-comer" distinction, Maggie Boyer, 26, is an 11-year advertising veteran. Now VP-media at Avenue A Inc., Seattle, Boyer started out in the agency business at age 15 as an intern at Young & Rubicam Inc. through a connection with her aunt, who worked in the human resources department.

Boyer had been obsessed with advertising as a teenager, memorizing companies and their slogans by playing an advertising board game for countless hours. After a brief stint at Arizona State University, she decided she was ready to pursue her career though still in her teens. At 18, she joined the client side of the business full-time, working on b-to-b campaigns for car audio manufacturer Clarion.

In 1995, Boyer rejoined Y&R as a media planner for the groups Wunderman Cato Johnson agency, based in Chicago, where she developed direct response campaigns for clients including H&R Block Inc., Ameritech Corp. and Blockbuster Inc.

While working on the H&R Block account in 1997, Boyer got her first experience with online advertising. The financial services client decided to allocate a small percentage of its budget to an e-mail marketing campaign, and it asked for someone to volunteer for the project.

"I thought it sounded pretty cool," Boyer said. "I had never worked with a company called Yahoo! before," she added, referring to one of the partners in the campaign.

H&R Block sent out 10,000 targeted e-mails and received 5,000 responses, which caused Boyer to see the potential for using direct response techniques online. "I realized at that point, both in b-to-b and b-to-c [business-to-consumer], there was an opportunity to obtain rapid feedback in a way wed never seen beforenot in direct mail, direct TV or direct radio," Boyer said.

Soon after that, she began having conversations with her friend Steve Klein, then a partner at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, about forming a digital advertising agency. Together they founded iBalls L.L.C., New York, for which she served as media director working with clients such as J. Crew and Netscape Communications Corp.

In 1998, Boyer was hired as director-media at Avenue A, which later acquired iBalls, to help transform the year-old agency from an ad network model into a media buying agency. Since then, she has worked with b-to-b clients including Air2Web Inc. and Thomas Regional Directory Co. and has managed relationships with more than 5,000 online publishers.

Does she still find the advertising business as much fun as the board game? "Real money, no rules, and I know Im going to win," Boyer said. "It beats the heck out of the board game.

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