2008 Digital Outlook

aarfOne of the projects I was involved with while at Avenue A | Razorfish back in 2005 was to assist in the production of the inaugural Avenue A | Razorfish Digital Outlook Report. A woman in the PR department introduced the idea during a weekly marketing meeting and off we all went pulling together content for what was to be an 8″ x 11″, 28-page pdf. This modest little document was first introduced in the company newsletter, slant, eventually settling in as a download on the corporate website to be used mostly as a PR and sales tool.

The report was an enormous hit. As editor and publisher of slant, I marveled that it was downloaded nearly ten times more often than any other article in the history of the newsletter and that it continued to draw downloads well into the year.

Last week, I had the occasion to visit the newly consolidated Manhattan offices of Avenue A | Razorfish in Times Square. I reminisced with ex-colleagues about the Beach Street and Fifth Avenue days of old, but I found the multi-floor open space on Broadway an impressive breath of air smacking of that oh-so-lovely fragrance, success.

I entered the bright new offices and straight away noticed a beautifully designed and produced stack of premium little reference guides on the reception desk: The Avenue A | Razorfish 2008 Digital Outlook Report. In three short years, the 28-page pdf had grown into a 158-page coffee table book. Substantive and smart, I was happy to pocket this lovely piece and add it to my personal reference library.

The day Microsoft’s $6 billion purchase of AA | RF was announced my phone rang at 7:30 am with the news. I was no longer with the company, but called all my old pals who were still there to congratulate them. It was a fun day for a lot of people. I was a bit giddy myself. Even today when I consider the story of how they went from $140 mm to $500 mm in twenty-something months and sold for twelve times revenue – I’m still a little breathless.

As I shook the hands of my old Razorfish colleagues last week, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride. It was this collection of thinkers, strategists, creatives and analysts that created all that remarkable value for which Microsoft was willing to pay one a heck of a premium.

As I flip through my 2008 Digital Outlook Report, I also feel a surge of pride. From “Think Social Marketing in 2008”, to “Expanding Behavior Targeting”, I can’t help but see it as one of the legacies of slant, my little newsletter that could. The days of constantly hounding our brightest talent for case studies and opinion pieces are fondly recalled.

And there they are still, these thinkers and their thoughts. Now in airy Manhattan offices and four-color press. Well done, little Fishes.

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