Integration works, but still a fighting word

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[Deer Valley, Utah] Integrating online and brick-and-mortar efforts is still Topic A for most marketers, even those who have figured out how to harness the Internet for their purposes. And they can't agree about what the word "integration" means, according to speakers at a recent conference.

Marketers and vendors at the iMedia Brand Summit were both rapt and gabby. Industry folk have evolved in their level of sophistication since last year, said Kathryn Koegel, director of research and industry development at online advertising company DoubleClick.

"They've gone beyond the fact that the medium works to demonstrating how it works," she said.

The attendees-including some of the nations largest marketers, such as Procter & Gamble Co. and PepsiCo and online leaders such as Amazon and eBay-are not people trying to understand the interactive channel; they are the people who will raise interactive to the same status as any other channel.

different definitions

"Post-boom, post-bust, we're in the phase where real businesses are being developed," said keynote speaker Jonathan Miller, chairman-CEO of Time Warner's America Online.

But, while integration was the theme of this summit, speakers lectured and quarreled about what works and where integration is going. They even squabbled over the definition of the word.

That is not unusual, according to Mary Ann Packo, chief client and marketing officer of Millward Brown. She presented a survey of 292 brand decision-makers where some 89% said have they integrated efforts, but they differed about what it meant. Some said it was using multiple communication channels; others said it meant adding interactive to the marketing mix.

They also said integrated marketing is hard to pull off, said Ms. Packo. Reasons include the fact that marketers in charge of different channels inside the organization battle over budgets. Another factor is that advertising agencies are not set up to integrate marketing channels.

Different media do different jobs, pointed out Scott Deaver, exec VP-marketing, Cendant Car Rental Group. The key to success is that the media "share the same strategy brief, but have different creative briefs," he said. "I'm just not that hypnotized by seeing the same thing 12 different times."

Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson is Cendant's agency for TV, and Mr. Deaver pointed out other agencies handle other channels. "McCann tends to say `Here's how the creative integration would work' [among agencies]," he said.

Mitsubishi Motors North America handles the agency role a bit differently, said Ian Beavis, senior VP-marketing, product planning and public relations. He said he consolidated all the automaker's business with Interpublic's Deutsch and iDeutsch because "Deutsch never came to us with anything less than a fully integrated campaign."

Mitsubishi, which is struggling to turn around weak sales, has increased its online spending this year, while killing $120 million in network TV advertising-that's 75% of the marketing budget-while still running ads on cable TV and in other media, he said (see AdAge.com aap96b).

"The smaller your budget, the more important to be integrated," Mr. Beavis said. "We are not a Toyota or a Honda-we have 2% market share."

singing praises

One marketer that is singing the praises of integration is Kraft Foods, which took part in a study early this year to prove that online advertising drove offline sales. Banners ads ran from Halloween through the post-holiday time promoting Jell-O, and results were tracked through to sales. There was a 7.5% sales lift in stores following the campaign, and purchase intent grew seven percentage points, said Carole Walker, director of e-communications, advertising and strategy at Kraft.

The test studied the Internet along with other marketing channels, instead of in isolation from other marketing channels, Ms. Walker said. The result? "Traditional marketing is working and those dollars are not going to disappear," she said. "But it helped defend the minimum [online] spending levels [across all brands]."

At Kraft, the creative differs from online to TV to print, "but it's the same idea," Ms. Walker said.

Nestle, which took part in the same study, experienced a 10% lift for the Coffee Mate brand. "That 10% was very persuasive," said Todd Manion, manager of e-business and consumer relationship management at Nestle USA. The result at Nestle is "Dollars are being shifted from some of the national television [campaigns] to online."

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