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Omnicom Group approached the Internet more cautiously than did most of its peers. But in September, it staked out a piece of the future by announcing minority investments in five differently niched interactive shops. Deals with two or more others, including Organic Online, are in development.

The investments in companies like and Red Sky Interactive give Omnicom flexibility and reach but probably not much control in the end, given the minority stakes Omnicom owns in each company. Watch for the holding company to aggressively seek to leverage the shops' expertise on behalf of its other agencies-including DDB Needham Worldwide and BBDO Worldwide.

John Wren, Omnicom CEO, has shown a deft touch in exploiting fast-growing communications niches and sounds bullish on this one. But he has yet to identify a substantive strategy for achieving leadership in the realm.

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