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Integrated marketing: What’s the big idea?

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By Matt Goldberg

Developing idea-driven, multichannel media campaigns is not a novel concept. The vision is as old as the consolidation mantra that the value of the media network can be more than the sum of its parts. Some argue that cross-platform integration is no more than a fad driven by ill-fated media roll-ups. But even with big media waning, integrated marketing is alive and well, enjoying new momentum as media companies and agencies collaborate to craft tangible solutions that address client needs. The fragmentation of the media landscape demands that marketers create integrated campaigns that meet the splintered media consumption habits of increasingly sophisticated audiences.

Clients often begin their integrated marketing approach with a quest for the big idea. Consequently, media professionals dream up whizbang ideas. But the big idea is a necessary-though insufficient-part of the mix. What is the value of any idea if it does not resonate with the target audience across relevant platforms, cannot be executed or fails to achieve the desired result? The key to the integrated elixir lies in three foundational pillars: audience delivery, execution and return on investment.

It may be obvious, but audience delivery is the raison d’etre for media integration. All communication objectives are a function of the desire to have some stated impact on the behavior of a defined target audience. Creating meaningful dialogue requires consistent touch points that resonate with the right target in the right environment at the right time. The role of media professionals is to translate their understanding of client objectives into a customized communications platform that establishes the context for the advertising message to resonate. Ideally, the process should be media neutral-indifferent to the platform or channel through which the audience is delivered. The key is to provide access to an engaged audience as efficiently as possible, while creating relevant extensions such as events, database marketing or alternative distribution channels. It’s much more than an exercise in bundling.

Too many media companies spin ideas that grab their clients’ attention only to fall down on their ability to execute. Moving from the big idea to the launch of an integrated campaign requires commitment, since the risks of poor execution can lead to disaster. Media companies must develop strategies to facilitate the flawless delivery of integrated marketing programs-whether creating custom content, establishing linkages across platforms or developing meaningful marketing extensions. Success depends on breaking down the traditional silos that impede collaboration, as well as investing in additional cross-divisional resources competent in execution.

The mandate is clear: marketers must deliver a return on every marketing dollar spent. While there is no agreement on a unified cross-media measurement approach, a results orientation is a critical piece of the puzzle. The value of media integration must be articulated through objective, quantifiable success metrics. Most media companies pay lip service to ROI, but few make results accountability a top priority, since there are obvious risks in doing so. To distinguish their solutions, media companies should commit themselves to research that measures each component of the campaign against predetermined metrics, whether the objective be branding, awareness, consideration or purchase intent. Better yet, the results should convey the impact of the integration itself, exhibiting the incremental lift of each element working in tandem.

So what do media companies offer as partners in the equation? They are uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise of integrated marketing for three reasons. First, media organizations alone can provide entree to the content environment that creates the contextual relevance clients seek for their messages. Great content provides a payoff to the audience, translating to a high level of engagement that benefits advertisers. Second, they can extend their hard-earned audience relationships: Nobody knows an audience better than the media professionals who serve them. Finally, media can leverage brand credibility. It matters where messages are placed, and top-tier media companies can deliver a halo effect of powerful association. In short, the media companies that customize integrated marketing solutions that give substance to the big idea stand to benefit from growing client demand and incremental rewards for their efforts.

Matt Goldberg is executive director of Dow Jones Integrated Solutions, Dow Jones & Co. He can be reached at matthew.goldberg@dowjones.com.

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