Isobar to test digital appetite

Digital agency Isobar marks the London-traded Aegis Group¿s second launch in the Middle East.

Aegis Group, a communications company listed on the London Stock Exchange, has launched its digital marketing agency Isobar in the Middle East.

Isobar, which works with the likes of Nokia, Adidas and Coca-Cola internationally, is based at Dubai Media City and is the second Aegis company to launch in the region.

Isobar, which develops websites, digital strategies and online media plans on behalf of its clients, has more than 50 offices worldwide. The company said it "will launch in Dubai before increasing its regional presence through acquisition and organic growth".

Isobar is part of Aegis Media, owner of the communications agency Carat, which also has a presence in the Middle East.

Michael Nederlof, the chief executive of Aegis Media for the Mena region, said Isobar had "five launch clients" in the region, including Merck Pharmaceuticals and Disney.

"We were using third parties for digital creative," Mr Nederlof said. "So we said we needed to have Isobar operating in the Mena region." Mr Nederlof said estimates of the region's digital advertising spending undervalued the industry. Some estimate that spending on digital media accounts for just 1 to 2 per cent of the total advertising market in the Arab world.

Mr Nederlof said he disagreed with this statistic. "All the clients are increasing their spending on digital. And that's not because it's cheaper, it's because it's more efficient," he said.

"Nokia, one of our biggest clients, is spending more than 20 per cent of its total marketing budget on digital in the Middle East and Africa region."

Elie Khouri, the regional chief executive of Omnicom Media Group, told The National last month that advertising spending on digital media was expected to rise to US$195 million (Dh716.2m) in the GCC and the Levant this year, from $150m. In these regions, digital advertising spending makes up 6 per cent of the market, and it is growing at 30 per cent a year, Mr Khouri said.

Aegis Media comprises five agencies, which alongside Isobar and Carat include the media buying agency Vizeum and the outdoor advertising firm Posterscope. "We may consider launching other Aegis brands in the near future," Mr Nederlof said.

Duncan James, previously an executive at The Brand Union, has been appointed chief development officer for Aegis Media in the Middle East and Africa region.