SapientNitro has come out on top in a list of U.S. digital agencies that offer mobile marketing services. The list was compiled by research firm Forrester, which set out to make it easier for marketers looking for help with their mobile outreach.
The study ranked nine agencies - AKQA, iCrossing, Ogilvy, Possible Worldwide, Razorfish, Rosetta, SapientNitro, TribalDDB, and VML - by a set of 37 criteria. Among the criteria was the agency's ability to craft, execute and measure a mobile campaign; its financial health; its presence in the market; its experience developing mobile programs and its recognition from peers and clients.
SapientNitro was singled out because it "challenges its clients to think creatively about mobile’s role in strategic development and has the execution chops to implement" campaigns, the report said. The agency also boasts "a very long-tenured and experienced mobile management team."
The other top-ranked agencies were AKQA, Ogilvy, TribalDDB and Razorfish. The study concluded that iCrossing, VML, Rosetta, and Possible Worldwide also "offer competitive options."
However, some critics of the study have pointed out that Forrester not only chose to focus solely on large agencies, but that the criteria by which they were judged - factors like market presence and experience - favored larger, more-established shops. In a field of so many agencies offering mobile expertise, isn't it possible that a smaller start-up could be a better match for some marketers?
"I can understand that concern," said Melissa Parrish, the study's author, in an e-mail. But for the purposes of the study, it made sense to focus on large, full-service digital agencies.
"I focused on the digital agencies, rather than mobile-specific agencies, because those are the partners that enterprise marketers trust the most to inform their innovation strategies," she said. "That’s not to say that I think smaller, more focused agencies don’t do great work - it’s just to say that they weren’t the focus of this particular piece of research."
Though it focused on larger agencies, the study did give some encouragement to fans of smaller shops. For example, Parrish wrote that although she "expected to see differentiation among agencies" in terms of mobile strategy and "vision for the future of the channel," she noted that "the agencies we evaluated turned out to have remarkably similar approaches."
Forrester chose to conduct the study based on its own forecasts that show the number of mobile Internet users growing at an average of 9 percent year over year for the next five years. A company survey had also found that nearly half of interactive marketers planned to increase their mobile marketing budgets last year.
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014