New York-based Fowardslash Inc., which provides online and offline marketing services, doesn’t directly pursue its Internet clientele. Instead, the company partners with other agencies to help out with their clients.
We spoke to president Joseph Jaffe, who points to the incredible, shrinking unemployment rate (3.9 percent in February) and explosive growth in U.S.-based online advertising (from $3.6 billion in 1999, to a projected $17.5 billion in 2003, courtesy of eMarketer) as the basis of his strategy.
“Agencies are either spread too thin across disciplines or are turning business away,” Jaffe tells us. “We partner with agencies and give them the ability to expand and enhance an online media company. We take care of the dirty work and allow the agencies to concentrate on the mission-critical part of the campaign.” Jaffe believes the most successful agencies in the long run won’t be jacks of all trades – they will outsource parts of their business. Right now, Forwardslash has but two deals (Jaffe wouldn’t reveal them), but expects to grow by making its presence felt at high-profile trade shows.
Forwardslash strongly emphasizes its focus on ROI objectives for clients, and has a built-in monitoring system to make sure banner and clickthrough campaigns are optimal for that particular Web site. The company also performs Web-site creation, design and maintenance, and rich media, mailing list and targeted inventory campaigns. It provides online media planning and buying. Most interesting is its 24-hour communication call center, staffed by 125 people.
“It’s the fastest-growing part of the present company’s business,” said Jaffe, who points out the call center handles telephone and e-mail inquiries. “Nowadays, you cannot get an Internet company on the phone.”
We wondered about how the relationships work with the agencies – is there friction between the two sides? -- and Jaffe says his company plays somewhat of a subservient role. “We believe too many cooks spoil the broth,” he told us. “We prefer to have one point of contact – the agency.
“We’re strictly working for them at this stage. Down the line, we want to be partners. We want to be able to go back to the agency and say, ‘This didn’t work out well.’ Right now, we don’t want to step on toes.”
Big surprise: We assumed Jaffe would tell us its the traditional advertising agencies that are looking for Forwardslash’s online expertise. We were wrong. “It’s the traditional agencies that have gone interactive that are the least receptive to us,” he said. “It’s too new. They’re not willing to let go. It’s the new; it’s the pure plays. It’s the smaller interactive agencies who are the lowest-hanging fruit. They want ideas about how to grow their business.”
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