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With Digital Window (17th) ranking as the top company in this sector, it’s amusing to hear CEO Kevin Brown recall how he stumbled into the affiliate marketing industry: “We got Madonna fan sites to link to our booking page.”

Today, the firm’s network of more than 100,000 affiliates generate up to 40 per cent of all online revenue for big-name retailers such as DSG and Zavvi.

Smarter Communications (33rd) was set up in 2003, offering creative and media services under one roof. Co-founder Graham Hawkey-Smith believed this would create solutions faster. The results speak for themselves: 101 per cent growth since launch and current turnover of £11.8m.

Two digital marketing agencies have made it into the Hot 100 for the second year running. Set up by husband and wife team in 2000, sales at EquiMedia (94th) have leapt from £4.2m in 2004 to £15.7m in 2007. Unanimis Consulting (45th) helps its clients (Radio Times, Channel 5, London Stock Exchange and eBay) generate commercial return through online advertising, strategic partnerships and other interactive media channels.

The Bank (90th) also uses a range of media to get its clients’ messages across, including film production, event management and graphic design. Turnover topped £15m last year, but the current economy will prove a challenge. "At the moment, we’re moving along fine, but we can see warning signs around us,” says Rob Boughton, one of the founders.

Record label and management company Dramatico Entertainment (31st) delivers some star quality. Set up in 2000 by songwriter and composer Mike Batt (most famous for penning Art Garfunkel’s “Bright Eyes”), it now manages Katie Melua – the biggest-selling British female artist in the world last year – and has recently signed Carla Bruni, the First Lady of France.

AdConnection (66th), the media planning agency, advises its clients on targeted advertising campaigns and buys the ad space for them. Founder and MD Declan Reddington says an economic slowdown could work to the company’s advantage: “People start looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to advertise.”

Enteraction TV (79th) has been set up to thrive on the chaos that new technologies have caused. It makes shows for Sky, Freeview, the web, IPTV and mobile phone operators. The company has hit sales of £16.4m by being nimble and adapting to new technology as it emerges.

Astus UK (86th) has built its business model on “media bartering”. It sets up deals where clients pay for their advertising using their own goods and services. The brand gets cheaper advertising, the agency gets whatever the brand is offering – and Astus gets paid handsomely. Sales last year hit £22m.

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