Media: Behind the hype - Can Aegis boost its online offer through Diffiniti?

Just another example of the 'wizards of wank', or a valid launch?

First Vizeum, then Isobar and now Diffiniti. Not content with being dubbed the "wizards of wank" by Campaign after renaming BBJ as Vizeum, Aegis has come up with another corker.

The rebrand is part of Aegis' move to chase the booming market in digital and interactive media. Diffiniti is the new name for Carat Interactive UK. Or at least Carat Interactive UK minus its Carat clients, who will now be looked after by the recently launched Carat Digital operation.

If you thought that all of Carat Interactive's UK clients must, by virtue of its name, be Carat clients, you'd be wrong. Clients include AutoTrader, AOL, HBOS, Teletext and Coca-Cola. The rebranded shop will also work closely with Aegis' media network Vizeum.

In all, the two digital agencies have combined billings of something in the region of £34 million, representing a 100 per cent increase in one year. Carat Digital accounts for around £10 million, with something in the order of £24 million in billings at Diffiniti.

This follows hard work from Aegis in June that resulted in the creation of the umbrella digital brand, Isobar. Isobar, which now includes both Carat Digital and Diffiniti in the UK, is the biggest online buyer in the country.

But is all this shape-shifting more than just a job creation scheme for branding consultants? Nigel Sharrocks, the chief executive of Aegis Media, UK and Ireland, claims it is. "It's a market that's growing like crazy.

The growth in digital media is behind the creation of Isobar and the subsequent launch of Diffiniti. They are part of the first stage of an ongoing programme of development and expansion of our online and digital marketing capabilities," he says.

The agency will be expanding from online media planning and buying to cover different areas of digital expertise. Sharrocks outlines the possibilities: "You are looking at affiliate marketing, mobile content, website design, search marketing, e-mail marketing, data management."

The former managing director of Carat Interactive, Robert Horler, will be the managing director at Diffiniti. He will also be keeping an eye on the bigger digital picture for Aegis as head of Isobar UK.

Unleashed from the shackles of the Carat branding, but armed with Carat buying power and new digital bells and whistles, Horler will aim to spend more time pitching. "The raison d'etre will be for us to go in and secure more non-group clients," he says. "We hope to be the definitive service for clients in this space."

It seems Aegis is doing a good job of having its cake and eating it.

All the resources brought in to bolster Diffiniti's offering will be available to Carat Digital as well, under the Isobar brand.

With all this weight being thrown around, do rival agencies feel threatened?

Of course, none will own up to it. Damian Blackden, the joint managing director at Universal McCann, says it is a logical move and adds that his agency expanded its offering some time ago. However, he warns: "You cannot isolate planning and buying so easily."

Richard Collins, the UK chief executive of MindShare's digital operation mOne, claims to be "flattered", given the similar strategy behind the creation of his own division last July out of MindShare's mDigital and OgilvyInteractive:Media.

Both Blackden and Collins caution that any digital agency benefits from integration with its sister companies and that contact with the bigger world of the media agency shouldn't be sacrificed.

But what about that name? "It's just a good digital name," Sharrocks says. Blackden suggests that Diffiniti is "better than some other names".

Horler says that the name reflects the agency's positioning. So what do we reckon? Definitive, interactive, a little bit iffy. We wait to see how it delivers.

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