Isobar and Razorfish were found to be more competitive than BlueDigital, VML IM2.0 and Wunderman, while Possible and Proximity are still lacking when evaluated against the 30 criteria the company looked at. The research took place during the fourth quarter of 2014.
Each of the three leaders among all digital agencies has a proprietary strategy framework or tool—OgilvyOne's Dave, Isobar's Did, Razorfish's BNT—that helps clients “find the connection between understanding consumers and overcoming their own business challenges”, according to Forrester. They have also invested in innovation, such as OgilvyOne's K1ND, Isobar's 'musicons' and Razorfish's two dedicated social hubs in Shanghai and Wuhan.
OgilvyOne China leads the rest for being particularly competent in strategy, measurement and analytics, account management as well as emerging media capabilities. Its [email protected] and [email protected] units, according to Forrester, also mean a higher level of service integration for clients.
OgilvyOne was established in 1999 as the first digital agency in the country, and its mature local presence has built itself a balanced client portfolio of 50 per cent local-multinational proportion, the report said. In contrast, Possible China has only been in the market for three years, and the majority of its business comes from global contracts.
BlueDigital, the only native digital agency in the entire list, is one that is less vertically focused and provides full digital services than its local peers. It has increased its execution capabilities by acquiring specialist vendors in technology, for example, though it does not perform as consistently as the leaders in the digital pack.
VML IM2.0 China has found success in crafting localisation strategies for foreign brands in a few verticals such as FMCG. Its current offering is deemed to be strong, but its product and services road map has room to improve, advised Forrester.
As for Wunderman China, it has strengths in the automobile and luxury goods industries in mainland China, but is found to be weaker in discovery and innovation.
Lastly, Proximity and Possible are assessed to be less experienced in China and are smaller in both agency size and revenue. But the two do have clear strategic approaches that make them worthy contenders: e-commerce (Possible); data lab and creative intelligence (Proximity).
The research firm used a combination of primary research and agency surveys to to gather details of their qualifications. To validate those, Forrester also conducted reference calls with three of each agency's current clients. Other sizeable digital agencies in China, such as AKQA, DigitasLBI or SapientNitro, did not get shortlisted for review.