NMA Search Agency List – Friend or Foe?

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The NMA Search Agencies Marketing Guide 2011 list was published online recently, and has caused quite a lot of conversation around the twitter sphere. The annual list has highlighted some interesting results with some big winners and losers.

The biggest loser in this year’s list seems to be Latitude with a loss of over £1,000,000 in turnover YOY, with fellow agencies iCrossingUK and Propellernet also seeing significant losses. Looking at the other end of the scale the biggest winners are Smart-Traffic with an increase of over £2,000,000 whilst Forward3D & Epiphany Solutions also saw huge increases.

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As I was looking through the list I started to think about how accurate this list was and how much influence the NMA list actually carries?

Every year each company needs to submit their yearend financials split by the services that the agency supplies. Now this is where I feel the problem lies, what happens if your financial year ends early in the calendar year?

How can you have a true comparison, when companies such as Smart-Traffic & Propellernet year ended 03/10 and Forward3D that ended 12/10? You are comparing turnover from completely different quarters if not years! Propellernet could have significantly increased turnover since April 2010, which could have moved them up the list.

Now I could be totally wrong but I would envisage that when key stake holders identify agencies to send out RFP or Tenders they consult the NMA Search Agency List first and foremost before potentially asking for recommendations from peers.

Based on that theory, the NMA list becomes very important to search agencies and how they look to potential clients, which then surely should put the onus on the NMA to provide as accurate figures as possible?

I am sure that there are many different solutions to this problem to ensure the results are as accurate as possible, allowing all the agencies to compete on a level playing field.

One potential solution that I am putting forward is to get calendar year figures NOT financial yearend figures. Since the results do not seem to be published until the second quarter of the following year I think getting these results could be feasible. If every agency enters financials from January 1st through to December 31st of the previous year then everybody can be seen on a level footing giving the readers of the list a sense of accurate data.

Like I previously stated this is just one way that I think the NMA could improve the accuracy of Search Agency list, but I am certain there are more. What do you think of the current accuracy of the list? Do you feel it fairly represents the search agencies? I would be interested to hear your thoughts below in the comments or on twitter where you can find me @danielbianchini

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