NEW MEDIA LEAGUE TABLES: The changing face of new media firms - New media agencies are experiencing rapid growth and change as well as consolidation

Marketing's first survey of new media agencies reveals rapid growth and shifting requirements from ever more sophisticated clients. If anecdotal evidence suggests that the new media sector is undergoing a period of extensive change, the statistics in Marketing's first ever New Media League Table provides strong supporting evidence. No fewer than 20 companies report triple-digit percentage growth figures for 1999 over 1998, with many more reporting strong growth during 2000. The past 12 months have seen major consolidation and shake-out too, with lots of merger and acquisition activity as agencies seek the alliances they need to compete on a global basis.

Marketing's first survey of new media agencies reveals rapid growth and shifting requirements from ever more sophisticated clients. If anecdotal evidence suggests that the new media sector is undergoing a period of extensive change, the statistics in Marketing's first ever New Media League Table provides strong supporting evidence. No fewer than 20 companies report triple-digit percentage growth figures for 1999 over 1998, with many more reporting strong growth during 2000. The past 12 months have seen major consolidation and shake-out too, with lots of merger and acquisition activity as agencies seek the alliances they need to compete on a global basis.

New media company, and on- and offline agency Foresight, merged in the summer, creating a company with 380 staff, the UK's second-largest new media agency based on 1999 turnover figures, with a total income of pounds 17.4m. Ninety-five per cent of its total turnover is accounted for by new media work, and it is ranked second, with a new media turnover of pounds 16.5m. In the table its 1998 turnover figure is an amalgamation of the figures for both companies.

Nucleus, independent since its formation in 1979, merged with the Swedish company Adera Group in September. The merged group has 650 staff. 'We are building on Europe's strengths in digital TV, WAP, strategy and branding, and with ten offices in seven countries, we are able to give the personal and culturally sensitive service our customers demand in a maturing environment,' says Nucleus chairman and managing director Peter Matthews. French advertising group Havas was also on the acquisition trail again, adding to its portfolio of new media agencies, alongside ehsrealtime and AMX.

Top of the league

Despite all the merger and acquisition activity, however, it's an independent agency, AKQA, which finds itself sitting pretty at the head of the league tables. The distinctively-titled AKQA, founded in 1995 by chairman Ajaz Ahmed, grew from pounds 14m turnover in 1998 to pounds 21m in 1999, and has picked up a string of new business wins throughout 2000, winning ten of the 12 pitches it has entered so far.

With 100% of its work accounted for by new media, it won a pan-European web project for Energizer, the battery company, in January; a life-style and e-commerce portal project for Saga in April; a Kit Kat site for Nestle Rowntree in May; and the pounds 1m Lloyds TSB internet bank,, in September. The company had planned to float in October of this year, but that idea has been scrapped for the moment. The company says it will come to the market by 2002 as originally planned.

'Independence enables focus and freedom,' says Ahmed. 'AKQA has remained independent so it can focus on what it does best: delivering outstanding solutions for clients. Our independence from a parent organisation has helped to ensure that the company is in control of its own destiny and it has the freedom to make investments that are right. Our objective has never been to be the biggest, only the best.'

The agency, Ahmed says, has avoided the temptation to grow too fast and deliver poor service to clients, which can result in high staff turnover and lay-offs. 'By doing so,' he says, 'the company has ensured that it manages to provide consistent levels of client service and remain loyal to its staff through both boom times and slow growth.'

In a sector that has sprung up from nowhere over the past couple of years, it's no surprise to see some huge growth figures, especially where the percentage rise is based on a modest starting point.

Topping the fastest growers table is Fi System Brand New Media. Fuelled by a number of pan-European account wins, including Durex and Procter & Gamble, plus acquisitions, the company's total turnover rose 756% from pounds 653,811 in 1998 to pounds 5.6m in 1999. It forecasts impressive growth figures for 2000 too, with turnover expected to come in at around pounds 11m.

Fi System says it is working on building the web agency concept in the UK, embracing IT, strategy and consultancy, across new and traditional media, and its focus for the next year will be to strengthen its IT back-end solutions and skills.

Geography and service

'We believe agencies that are capable of delivering a true full service to clients will be well placed to secure the large projects with bigger budgets,' says UK managing director Simon Wadsworth. 'As the industry continues to change and mature, customers will demand ever-increasing levels of geographic and service coverage. Our position as one of the largest web agencies in Europe puts us in a strong position to meet our clients' needs.'

Other notable growth statistics come from Razorfish, with total turnover up 550% year on year to pounds 7,158,000; and Absolute Internet, up 320% to pounds 1.2m, from the 1998 figure of pounds 400,000. Absolute says that its growth can be attributed to the explosion of activity in the business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce sector - 75% of its work is B2B - and the resultant demand for e-commerce expertise. The agency gives much of the credit for its high client retention to its customer service and project teams and its content management system.

This is software that Absolute says can be extended with a range of plug-ins and also enables its clients to control their own web sites. The agency says it is particularly suited to e-commerce and online retail and can power intranets and establish password-protected areas in both front and back end. An e-mail plug-in enables proactive client/customer contact, while an interactive plug-in allows users to post information on web pages.

Absolute also sets great store by site promotion. Its site promotion department was initially an extension of its web development work, but Web Site Promotion @ Absolute Internet is now a dedicated department operating independently - and it will soon become a company in its own right. 'Web sites have to be located quickly and easily on search engines or the creative and technical efforts that go into their design and build are wasted,' says Absolute director of site promotion Jason Russell. 'We deliver high rankings on the major search engines, provide detailed monthly statistics and continually advise clients on ways to maximise their web presence.'

Another big mover in turnover terms is MultiJac. The company has been around since 1994, but experienced major growth between 1998 and 1999, with total income up 400% from pounds 250,000 to pounds 1.26m.

MultiJac managing director John Simpson believes that as the new media industry grows up, the winners will be those companies that can most successfully marry old technology and new. Simpson says: 'As the market matures, the survivors will be the ones that can integrate the traditional creative and marketing skills with the new technologies to satisfy increasingly sophisticated demands for more effective communication and business information systems.'

Going for growth

Another agency pleased with its growth is Global Beach, whose total income rose by 88% between 1998 and 1999. The company opened a flagship London office in April and a New York office in September, and says that as it moves into 2001, it will continue to focus on integrating wireless communications, developing B2B software that 'knits together mobile communications and e-commerce with brand'. In the final quarter of this year, it will launch its Keycast GSM software, supplied on an Application Service Provider basis, which offers instant online audio.

Global Beach chief executive Clive Jackson says that in 2001, time, or at least the consumer's time, will be of the essence for new media agencies and online brands. 'The big consumer commodity is time - or the lack of it. The ability to cut to the chase will be a determining factor for new media delivery in 2001,' he says.

Jackson's views are echoed by James Dix, financial partner at The Team.

Dix says that The Team's work with the government on projects for the Department of Further Education and the NHS Management Training scheme required it to conform to government guidelines and has brought the issue of accessibility to the top of its agenda. 'We now use government accessibility standards as a base specification for all our work, unless the specific nature of the content demands a different approach,' says Dix. 'There's no point in designing a great-looking piece of communication that only the few can view. These guidelines mean fast, efficient sites with smart architecture, user-focused design and clever code.'

The past couple of years have seen several new media business start-ups.

Some of the newer agencies were unable to provide turnover figures for 1999 so could not be included in our tables this year, but they may figure strongly next time round. Xxist com, for example, started in August 1999 and at the time of compiling the survey had no audited figures on which to be ranked, but the company says it expects to hit a turnover of pounds 7m for the year to March 2001., formed in January, is in a similar position, but expects first year income of around pounds 700,000. And while Panlogic's total turnover for 1999 may look modest at pounds 260,000, the company points out that its audited 2000 figures stand at pounds 2m.

Panlogic specialises in online marketing, but does not design or develop web sites. The company has developed a number of proprietary technologies, including web seeding systems that it claims enable its clients to get to the top of search engines. It has also developed 'Secure Socket Technology', which allows it to produce virtual scratchcards, trading cards and lottery games. Clients include United News & Media, Honda and Kelkoo, and the agency says it intends to roll its technologies and network into Europe in the next six months.

If 1999 was the year of the internet start-up then 2000 might be seen as the year that the old economy fought back. Established companies moved onto the web with a vengeance. As this multi-channel model becomes the norm, the integrated agencies that can advise companies on their strategy both off- and online are beginning to push the benefits of the integrated approach.

'Web site consultancy, design and build, carried out in isolation from the overall brand and communications strategy of a company, is a dangerous business approach,' says Bernard Guly, director of integrated agency View.

'We feel that agencies such as View, which have an in-house resource offering their clients the full end-to-end solution, from strategic brand development through to implementation via both online and offline media, coupled with back-end systems integration consultancy where appropriate, are the agencies of the future - all others will eventually become obsolete.'

Combining skills

IS Solutions, meanwhile, says it is more concerned about a different kind of integration - between the graphical front end of web sites, and the systems integration and technical consultancy for implementation and integration of back-office systems.

'As companies develop their e-business strategy, the need for an agency to offer a combination of these two skills has become more important,' says IS Solutions total internet solutions product manager Phil Presland. 'The age of flat, first generation, corporate PR web sites has long gone and traditional agencies that have embraced the internet as merely another advertising medium will find life difficult.'

Edwin Mitchell-Finch, director of digital media at PSD Associates, sees the integration of new media with old as inevitable and says the tendency for new media to be viewed as a separate communications entity will eventually disappear: 'With the proggression of interactive television, interfaces for mobile phones and hand-held technology devices, new media design agencies are spreading their skills further and this will continue to grow,' he says. 'Standalone digital media agencies will gradually come back into the fold of multi-discipline design groups as digital media has a greater impact on design and communication channels.'

Several companies noted significant changes in what clients are demanding.

'We are doing a lot more consultancy than we were 12 months ago,' says Roger Doddy, head of marketing at HarperKay. 'Then there was a real rush to create web sites. Now, companies are taking their time to get their next initiatives right and are consulting widely on strategy.'

Increasingly, it says, companies are asking for help with e-commerce projects, together with related integration and software development work.

It sees this trend towards wireless and broadband application development continuing during 2001.

John Owrid, head of the interactive consultancy at OgilvyOne, says the agency is witnessing a step-change in how clients approach both interactive and CRM programmes and in many respects these are becoming one and the same type of initiative.

Return on investment

According to Owrid, there are two key aspects to the change. The first is a far greater emphasis on return on investment, evaluation and measurement approaches, all of which he sees becoming far more dominant as entry-level issues for clients pursuing these strategies during 2001.

The second change is a greater emphasis in client work on the ability to deliver highly integrated solutions, where strategy processes are completely inter-linked with delivery processes. 'As the number of interactive delivery channels continues to multiply beyond web and wireless, the ability to connect the customer experience back into the 'front end' strategy and technology drivers will become a more important competitive advantage,' Owrid says.

Looking to the future, return on investment emerges as a key issue on new media businesses' agenda.

'The industry has to realise that many companies have now invested in well-developed web sites. The future will bring more demand to recoup return on investment from these sites,' says Will Simmonds, marketing manager for European Internet Technologies.

While new media budgets and new media agency incomes may still look small compared with their traditional above-the-line counterparts, the high levels of growth experienced by many show that the tide has already turned.

Fragmenting TV audiences will exacerbate the unstoppable migration toward the web, interactive TV and mobile internet platforms. And as broadband technology takes hold, streaming video and other data-rich content, which have thus far been a no-go on the narrowband internet, will become a reality for both consumers and companies.

It all adds up to 12 months of new challenges and opportunities for new media companies that can harness the leading-edge technologies at their disposal in the most meaningful and profitable way for their clients.


Oasis Communications designed and built the front end for the new Guinness World Records web site, which went live in late October. Working alongside Bainlab, Oasis was briefed on the project in March and determined what content would be on the site and the way in which people could interact with it.

The site is aimed at a number of audiences, ranging from record attemptors, holders and researchers, who will use the information as a research tool, through to teenagers, who will log on for entertainment.

The site is designed to offer an immersive experience. It includes record pages offering comprehensive details about individual records and record holders, plus pages where visitors can see video footage of record attempts.

In the future, the aim will be to offer live feeds of world record attempts in progress.

There's also a 'measuring-up' feature where users can compare themselves to various world record holders. So put in your own measurements to compare yourself to the world's biggest woman, for example, and you get a drawing showing the visual comparison.

Oasis Communications and Guinness World Records,


Rank Agency                         Turnover 99   Turnover 98   % change

                                       (pounds)      (pounds)

1    Fi System Brand New Media        5,599,756       653,811        756

2    Razorfish                        7,158,000     1,101,000        550

3    MultiJac                         1,260,000       250,000        404

4    AMX                              1,900,000       500,000        280

5    Syzygy                           6,610,000     1,824,000        262

6    Absolute Internet                1,200,000       400,000        200

7    European Internet Technologies     343,309       120,760        184

8    answerthink                      3,983,542     1,424,822        180

9    Deepend                          2,900,000      1086,000        167

10   TechnoPhobia                       500,000       208,000        140

11   4i                               2,371,679     1,008,482        135

12   Wax New Media                    1,200,000       520,000        131

13=  Oasis Communications             9,000,000     4,000,000        125

13=  Mason Zimbler                    1,800,000       800,000        125

15                       3,215,000     1,465,000        119

16   The Digital Partners             2,400,000     1,100,000        118

17   Head New Media                     570,000       265,960        114

18=  Designercity                       850,000       425,000        100

18=  Media Contacts                   5,000,000     2,500,000        100

18=  Green Cathedral plc              1,200,000       600,000        100


For the launch of the 607, Peugeot's most technologically complex and highest-spec car ever,'s brief was to create a site that would help customers understand the features and benefits of this complex car.

In addition, was handed the task of helping to implement complex software from Enterprise Resource Planning specialists SAP, which is used to keep track of the options the customer has chosen and to make sure that the customer is always specifying a model that Peugeot can build. applied its 'customer experience engineering' methodology to the problem of explaining the car.

The process turned up some interesting results that had a significant impact on the final design of the site. For instance, discovered users are always in the market for a new car. As they drive, watch television, surf the web or talk in the pub, they are assessing which car they'd like next. So while the 607 site would need to explain the car, it would not need to sell it - users visiting the site would already have it on their shortlist. also realised that there was a need for an adviser to help users pick the right model based on non-specific qualities like style and performance.,


The pan-European football web site,, launched on April 19 2000. Brave advised on the strategy and content for the site, and came up with the name The site itself was built by Brave's development partner, Compuware.

In addition to Brave's consultancy work, parent company Billington Cartmell handled the marketing campaign to launch the site. This embraced London billboards, press advertising, a global PR campaign and an online banner campaign in the UK and China.

The site launched in English, with Chinese and Spanish versions added before Euro 2000. It provides news, live scores, match results and reports from 26 countries. It covers all European top-division league football, pan-European competitions, international European football and the World Cup.

The site offers tax-free betting in partnership with Coral Eurobet, travel and ticket offers to games across Europe and merchandise.

The site registered 1.2 million page impressions in May, climbing to 4.8 million in September. Unique user numbers have risen from 60,000 in May to 225,000 in September. Users spend an average nine minutes at the site per session. In addition, 8000 members have joined the onefootball club.



Rnk  Agency              New Media t''over 99  % New Media  Total t''over

                                    (pounds)                99 (pounds)

1    AKQA                         21,000,000          100    21,000,000

2 / Foresight          16,530,000           95    17,400,000

3    IS Solutions Plc             11,818,000          100    11,818,000

4    Seven Interactive             8,000,000          100     8,000,000

5    Revolution                    7,280,000           65    11,200,000

6    Razorfish                     7,158,000          100     7,158,000

7    Tribal DDB London             6,716,000          100     6,716,000

8    Quidnunc Group                6,703,450          100     6,703,450

9    Syzygy                        6,610,000          100     6,610,000

10   Rufus Leonard                 5,525,000           85     6,500,000

11                  5,063,000          100     5,063,000

12   Ogilvyinteractive             4,405,000          100     4,405,000

13   Fi System Brand New Media     4,199,817           75     5,599,756

14   Crown Business

     Communications                4,000,000           40    10,000,000

15   answerthink                   3,983,542          100     3,983,542

16   Oasis Communications          3,600,000           40     9,000,000

17   design net                    3,500,000          100     3,500,000

18                    3,215,000          100     3,215,000

19   Black Sun                     2,880,000           40     7,200,000

20   Publicis NetWorks             2,850,000          100     2,850,000

21   Deepend                       2,813,000           97     2,900,000

22   Siegelgale                    2,679,600           60     4,466,000

24   IDH Group                     2,492,800           40     6,232,000

25   Brave Marketing               2,460,000           30     8,200,000

26   View                          2,436,500           55     4,430,000

27=  The Digital Partners          2,400,000          100     2,400,000

27=  Interesource New Media        2,400,000          100     2,400,000

29   PixelPark AG                  2,058,000           98     2,100,000

30   Nucleus                       2,025,000           75     2,700,000

31   Fitch                         1,975,000           25     7,900,000

32   DVA                           1,958,796           90     2,176,440

33   Clever Media                  1,950,000           30     6,500,000

34   AMX                           1,900,000          100     1,900,000

35   PSD Associates                1,870,500           29     6,450,000

36   Domino                        1,800,000          100     1,800,000

37   Workhouse                     1,650,000           75     2,200,000

38   Good Technology               1,500,000          100     1,500,000

39   Global Beach Group            1,466,000          100     1,466,000

40   Lateral                       1,400,000          100     1,400,000

41   Precedent                     1,360,000           80     1,700,000

42   FEREF                         1,344,283           50     2,688,566

43   MultiJac                      1,260,000          100     1,260,000

44   mcb digital                   1,227,313          100     1,227,313

45=  Green Cathedral               1,200,000          100     1,200,000

45=  Absolute Internet             1,200,000          100     1,200,000

47   Wax New Media                 1,176,000           98     1,200,000

48   Tableau Group                 1,160,000           70     1,160,000

49   Black ID                      1,010,428          100     1,010,428

50   NetInfo                       1,003,910          100     1,003,910

52   Tayburn                         865,620           14     6,183,000

53   Designercity                    833,000           98       850,000

54   Digital Outlook Communications  750,000          100       750,000

55   Carnegie Orr                    728,000           28     2,600,000

56   4i                              711,504           30     2,371,679

57   Line Up Communications          701,581           15     4,677,205

58   Allan Burrows                   660,445            6    11,007,422

59   Catalyst Creative Imaging       651,941           20     3,259,707

60   Design House                    637,840           17     3,752,000

61   Eye II Eye                      578,930           19     3,047,000

62   Twentyfirst Century

     Communications                  570,500           35     1,630,000

63   Head New Media                  570,000          100       570,000

64   Mason Zimbler                   540,000           30     1,800,000

65   Bostock and Pollitt             539,733           30     1,799,111

66                 519,000          100       519,000

67=  HarperKay                       500,000          100       500,000

67=  TechnoPhobia                    500,000          100       500,000

69   96hundred design group          480,700           95       506,000

70   dowcarter                       410,000          100       410,000

71   Euro RSCG Interaction KLP       385,000           11     3,500,000

72   Insight Group                   383,541           38     1,009,318

73   Orchard Internet                350,000          100       350,000

74   European Internet Technologies  343,309          100       343,309

75   CLK.MPL                         336,270            3    11,209,000

76   Content Content                 321,000          100       321,000

77   Fish Design                     320,000           40       800,000

78   Shelton Fleming Associates      274,308           12     2,285,899

79   A Vision                        270,000           50       540,000

80   Panlogic                        260,000          100       260,000

81   Ideas                           208,731           10     2,087,312

82   Dimension M                     180,000           10     1,800,000

83   Uffindell West                  149,321            8     1,866,512

Rnk  Agency                     Total t''over      Total %          Staff

                                  98 (pounds)     change

1    AKQA                         14,000,000           50           150

2 / Foresight          12,400,000           40           380

3    IS Solutions Plc              8,745,000           35           135

4    Seven Interactive             5,300,000           51            55

5    Revolution                   10,800,000            4            50

6    Razorfish                     1,101,000          550           300

7    Tribal DDB London             3,800,000           77            64

8    Quidnunc Group                5,357,085           25           347

9    Syzygy                        1,824,000          262           180

10   Rufus Leonard                 3,300,000           97           120

11                  3,044,000           66           140

12   Ogilvyinteractive                   n/a          n/a           150

13   Fi System Brand New Media       653,811          756           120

14   Crown Business

     Communications                9,400,000            6           130

15   answerthink                   1,424,822          180            38

16   Oasis Communications          4,000,000          125            72

17   design net                    2,500,000           40            35

18                    1,465,000          119           120

19   Black Sun                     6,200,000           16            56

20   Publicis NetWorks                   n/a          n/a            50

21   Deepend                       1,086,000          167            94

22   Siegelgale                    3,389,000           32            88

24   IDH Group                     5,060,000           23            90

25   Brave Marketing                     n/a          n/a            12

26   View                          4,052,000            9            35

27=  The Digital Partners          1,100,000          118            32

27=  Interesource New Media        1,500,000           60            70

29   PixelPark AG                        n/a          n/a            46

30   Nucleus                       2,400,000           13            50

31   Fitch                         8,500,000           -7           500

32   DVA                           2,082,324            5            30

33   Clever Media                  4,300,000           51            40

34   AMX                             500,000          280            55

35   PSD Associates                3,700,000           74            74

36   Domino                        1,200,000           50           103

37   Workhouse                     1,800,000           22            39

38   Good Technology               1,000,000           50            60

39   Global Beach Group              779,000           88            65

40   Lateral                         800,000           75            25

41   Precedent                     1,100,000           55            45

42   FEREF                         2,656,390            1            35

43   MultiJac                        250,000          404            30

44   mcb digital                     662,561           85           328

45=  Green Cathedral                 600,000          100            23

45=  Absolute Internet               400,000          200            30

47   Wax New Media                   520,000          131            38

48   Tableau Group                   596,000           95            28

49   Black ID                        645,090           57            22

50   NetInfo                         730,544           37            45

52   Tayburn                       5,362,000           15            86

53   Designercity                    425,000          100            29

54   Digital Outlook

     Communications                      n/a          n/a            25

55   Carnegie Orr                  2,100,000           24  &nb


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