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Advertising firms adjust to clients’ changing needs in digital age

In the digital age, the advertising world is topsy turvy. Cord cutters abound, and ads are blocked or skipped. And one unsatisfied customer has the power to unravel a major corporation with an unflattering social media post that goes viral.

“The biggest challenge for advertisers and marketers is that we’ve really lost control,” said Amy Durbin, partner and director of media at Eric Mower + Associates. “We’ve lost contr ol over who sees our advertising and when.”

But as the industry grapples with digital disruption, it’s also finding success in new medium with limitless possibilities.

“If you’re willing to embrace this loss of control, marketing and advertising today can be a lot of fun because the constraints are gone,” Durbin said. “There really aren’t rules anymore.”

Eric Mower and other local firms are redefining themselves and adjusting to the evolving need of their clients.

“Clients need stronger voice of customer, more quality leads and greater proof of marketing return on investment,” said James L. Phipps, president of Gelia.

Western New York has a rich ecosystem of advertising and marketing agencies. The five largest are:

Eric Mower + Associates

Employees: 43 in Buffalo; 250 total

Number of clients: 25 to 30 for Buffalo office

Gross revenues: $6.5 million for Buffalo office

Major clients: Key Bank, HealthNow/BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, North American Breweries/Labatt USA, Ford Dealers of Western New York, ECMC, Barclay Damon, Fisher-Price/Mattel, National Fuel Gas, Maid of the Mist, Canalside.

Areas of growth: Advertising/media planning; consumer brand public relations; shopper marketing; social media messaging and strategy; public affairs and crisis management.

What’s ahead for 2016 (and beyond): “EMA is honored to have several major, long-standing client relationships with profitable and growing businesses and organizations in the region. Agency-client relationships, industry-wide, rarely last more than two years. EMA is fortunate to have excellent clients with enormous growth potential and we look to help foster that growth,” said Steve Bell, head of the Buffalo office.


Employees: 122

Number of clients: 23

Major clients: Independent Health, Dana Corporation, Caterpillar, Mann+Hummel

Gross revenues: $30.5 million, up 15 percent in 2015

Company’s strengths/specialty: Digital and traditional content marketing, media plan development, lead generation/tracking/management, and analytics.

Areas of growth: Digital experience creation, mobile marketing, unique demand-generation programs, and data analytics.

What’s ahead for 2016 (and beyond):

Leveraging creative content to gain cross-platform visibility will continue to be a driver. Just opened another office in Raleigh, N.C.

FARM (formerly SKM)

Employees: 61

Number of clients: 35 active

Major clients: Tops Friendly Markets, Buffalo Bisons, Holiday Valley, MASH Urgent Care, Hyatt Regency Buffalo, Fowler’s Chocolates and Colton RV. Regional and national clients: SunTrust Bank, Cox Automotive Group Companies: vAuto and Xtime, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, Identifix, and American Benefits Consulting.

Gross revenues: $21 million, a 40% increase in three years

Company’s strengths/specialty: Research, branding, direct marketing, digital strategy, public relations, content marketing and media planning.

Areas of growth: Strategic services, with an increasing emphasis on research, data analytics, digital solutions, and content marketing to meet changing consumer habits.

What’s ahead for 2016 (and beyond): Extend reach in Western New York and increase national presence.

The Martin Group

Employees: 50 employees

Number of clients: 30 to 40 active

Major clients: Kaleida Health, New Era Cap, Seneca Gaming, Evans Bank

Gross revenues: $6 million

Company’s strengths/speciality: Branding. Proprietary “Brand Fuel” process allows companies both B2C and B2B to discover their key differentiators and define their strategic positioning amongst competitive set. Executing brand strategy through full service tactical capabilities.

Areas of growth: Largest and fastest growing public relations entity in WNY (MartinDavison Public Relations). Digital services including web development and social media will also continue to grow.

What’s ahead in 2016 (and beyond): 2016 will see continued growth in Rochester office as well as expansion into other markets outside of WNY. Possible Canadian partnerships to promote cross-border initiatives and tech start-up support. TMG will be moving into new fully renovated, state-of-the-art corporate headquarters in recently purchased building at 620 Main Street in downtown Buffalo. Continue to evolve service offering and brand to stay current and out front of the trends.

Crowley Webb and Associates

Employees: 75

Number of clients: 25 active

Major clients: M&T Bank, Philips Lytle, HealtheLink, and API Heat Transfer

Gross income: $10 million

Company’s strengths/speciality: Successfully established seven remote offices in six states.

Heavy investment in digital with addition of a number of specialists in the areas of analytics, community management, and UX development. Also hired specialists to expand service offering into market research, public relations and video production.  

Areas of growth: Growth has come from the pharmaceutical and health care categories. This trend is expected to continue into 2016. Growth of 10 percent in 2015; expect growth to be more than 15 percent in 2016.


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