Carat Interactive Becomes ‘Carat Fusion’

Carat Interactive has subsumed sister agency Carat Direct and changed its name to Carat Fusion. The change is meant to drive home the Aegis subsidiary’s shift “from a channel-based focus to an approach-based focus,” according to President Toby Gabriner.

Carat also said it has developed an optimization tool, called Citadel, which is geared toward providing better data on where an individual sale or lead originated. Executives say it can it pull either consumer data or campaign data, and give the agency a good idea of the lifetime value of customers.

“More and more clients are looking to better understand the massive changes that are happening in the marketplace,” said Gabriner. “Digital is becoming a huge part of the ways in which consumers are using media today. And measurement is becoming increasingly important as a way of determining ad spend. There’s a revolution going on in the marketplace as it pertains to media consumption patterns.”

The move to break down the internal barriers between media channels and marketing disciplines is similar to the recent decision by WPP’s Mediaedge:cia (MEC) to form MEC Interaction from its online and offline lead generation units. However, the operational changes at work within the Carat organization appear somewhat less radical than those implemented at MEC, where spatial divisions within that firm’s offices were totally broken down.

Still, there are procedural shifts underway at Fusion. As part of the strategy shift, each of the agency’s five U.S. offices will be outfitted with what executives are calling a Fusion lab, a space where team members will meet to discuss client strategy. Additionally, every single staffer’s business card will have “engagement specialist” printed on it. Staffers will retain functional titles, however.

“We’ve developed an entire Fusion planning process,” said Gabriner. “We’ve gotten rid of the traditional creative brief and media brief, [replacing them] with what we’re calling our Fusion brief.”

He added there are four key rubrics against which each of Carat Fusion’s campaign briefs will be checked: Is it compelling? Is it unexpected? Is it measurable? Is it worth it? In other words, he said, “Are we making a difference for our clients in terms of their business?”

Carat Interactive merged with sister agency Carat Direct back in January, but didn’t announce the move at the time. Susan Rowe, who was EVP of Carat Direct, now reports to Gabriner as EVP of integrated media. Other reporting relationships at Fusion remain as they were before the units were combined.

Carat Fusion will retain its place in Aegis’ Isobar network. Isobar also includes iProspect, Freestyle Interactive, Stockholm-based FarFar and Boston Web development firm Molecular.

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