Avenue A sets sights high

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In the past year, Seattle-based Avenue A hit the road for clients, seeing its revenue (and losses) multiply as it expanded offices and enhanced technology.

Like much of the Net, its stock also hit the wall: Avenue A crashed from its post-IPO high of $89 early this year to below $3 this fall. It traded about $4 last week.

"What hasn't changed is that we are about delivering excellent results for [our] clients," says Brian P. McAndrews, president-CEO. "We give them insight into the data. We help our clients acquire, retain and grow more customers, and innovate with technology and analytics."

Since Mr. McAndrews came aboard in September 1999, Avenue A expects to triple revenue this year from $70 million in 1999. "We did $100 million in the first half of the year," he says. The agency's client-base has more than doubled from 47 in the third quarter of 1999 to a current stable of 109. Avenue A lost $12.2 million on revenue of $47.2 million in the third quarter.


Physically, the company has grown as well, acquiring New York-based iballs in September 1999, whose clients included MasterCard International and Priceline.com.

Last June, Avenue A opened a London office to serve U.S. clients, including Gateway, Microsoft Corp.'s Expedia and Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch. This September, a new office in Paris followed.


Avenue A is pushing an ambitious e-mail tracking program. "We can track from first impression all the way through to any action," Mr. McAndrews says. "If someone sees an ad for Gateway, we can track their action by cookie. We can see if they purchase." The client or Avenue A can follow up the actions with opt-in e-mail marketing programs.

Avenue A also started its Strategic Partnership Program, which allows the agency to make long-term deals with portals.

For instance, Gateway wanted an exclusive deal with Yahoo! in its technology area. Unlike onetime ad placement, Avenue A negotiated a longer-term deal. The agency declined to give the specific length or terms of the agreement.

"It used to be those deals were usually made by the business development people. But then as things became trackable, clients realized it's more beneficial for us to be part of the deal upfront along with tracking," Mr. McAndrews says.


The shop is "optimizing the optimizers," he adds. With its search engine optimization, it helps clients' names come up high in Internet search results.

The agency doesn't plan to rest on this year's laurels, however. Avenue A is looking at other offerings.

"Our challenge is getting the world to one-to-one marketing. If marketing dollars are spent efficiently, there is no money wasted," says Mr. McAndrews. "We want to get the right message with the right person at the right time. We're getting closer and closer to that goal."


Mr. McAndrews says he hopes to achieve one-to-one marketing by continuing to create efficient tools to track additional media, including digital, wireless and interactive TV.

Mr. McAndrews defines analytics as covering everything from its new consulting business, client service, information management and product development.

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