2000 Agency Billings Rise Despite Start of Tech Slump

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Direct response agency billings for leading shops increased in 2000 versus 1999 despite the start of the dot-com and technology shakeout, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

A record 10 agencies reported global billings of more than $1 billion, according to the DMA's direct response agency billings report.

"Sixty-five percent of the agencies submitting figures for both years increased billings for 2000 versus 1999," said Ann Zeller, vice president of information and special projects at the DMA, New York.

Euro RSCG Marketing Services topped the list, with 2000 billings of $3.1 billion versus $2.45 billion in 1999. DraftWorldwide, OgilvyOne Worldwide, Rapp Collins Worldwide and Wunderman, then known as Impiric, rounded out the top five direct agencies.

The report was compiled by the DMA's research department and sponsored by the association's Direct Marketing Agency Council. The report ranks the leading 82 direct marketing agencies.

The DMA did not measure the year-over-year percentage increase for this report, Zeller said. But direct marketing spending rose in categories such as financial services, healthcare and business-to-business, she said.

Direct marketing showed stronger gains than some other advertising sectors because of its growing mainstream adoption.

The upswing in spending is attributed to direct and database marketing's efficacy amid economic uncertainty. The discipline proved itself in the 1991 recession, when marketers benefited from ramping up direct spending.

"Because of some of the things that have happened with the economy, more general advertisers are starting to look at direct response techniques, and also general agencies are looking at incorporating more direct response techniques in their campaigns," Zeller said.

DMA research shows that the trend will be reflected next year even in direct marketing sales versus retail.

"I see more growth in direct marketing than in regular retail," she said. "Our economic impact data tells us there will be a 3.4 percent increase in advertising expenditure. That's down from what has been in the 7 percent range over the last five years. But since regular retail is going to be flat, 3.4 percent is still positive."

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