Exclusive survey: Integration still a pipe dream for many

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Just about all marketers these days consider themselves proponents of the "integrated approach," but respondents to an exclusive survey conducted for Advertising Age by the New York American Marketing Association reveal how few have achieved integration in practice.

The survey, which polled 208 judges of the Effies-an award presented to the most effective marketing campaigns of the year-gathered the views of ad agencies, major marketers, media companies and specialist-marketing firms. The respondents agreed that cross-discipline strategies are often a nightmare to execute and difficult to measure effectively.

When asked what the toughest part of integration was, 89 respondents said, "ensuring strategy is consistently executed in all forms." Separately, 67 respondents said the second-toughest aspect of integrated marketing was "measuring the success of different aspects of a campaign." Interestingly, most ad agencies cited consistent execution as the biggest problem, while most clients pointed to measurement as their biggest headache.

One participant Drew Neisser, president-CEO of New York-based guerilla specialist Renegade Marketing Group, said that a basic problem is in defining what "integrated" actually means. He was surprised to hear some advertising executives at the Effie judging events describing campaigns as "integrated" purely because they employed TV, print and radio. Mr. Neisser prefers to see "integration" instead as a strategy that employs a variety of marketing disciplines.

emperor's clothes

"Integration is the emperor's new clothes, it's a fake ideal," said Mr. Neisser. "So often, most of the industry starts from advertising." He added that non-advertising disciplines were often forced to adapt to ideas that were created for a 30-second TV spot. "Headlines don't translate into guerilla campaigns," he said. However, a total of 175 respondents claimed their creative teams are directed to come up with ideas that will work in many mediums.

Just who is in charge of integration efforts is also up for some debate. While a majority of respondents (107 executives) said it was the client, most ad agencies said they were in charge. Only four client-side executives cited their agencies as the lead party on integration.

James McDowell, VP-marketing at BMW of North America and president of the New York American Marketing Association, said marketers, not advertising agencies, are best placed to direct integration efforts. "I don't think a lot of partners are good about coming up with a big idea on their own. Advertising agencies are responsible to holding companies," he said, adding that they don't have the ability to pull all the pieces together. "A marketer with an in-depth knowledge of its customer and brand attributes is best placed to help feed the strategy."

Survey respondents expressed some other barriers to integration. Said one agency executive, "The compensation of integration programs is a problem; clients need to understand that each discipline has a cost that is different." Working with companies that were organized into silos was another major issue cited. Another executive wrote: "There's never enough money to do a fully integrated marketing effort."

product placement

One of the other surprising results of the survey is the small extent to which participants employ product placement. The majority of respondents, 65 executives, said they rarely used this discipline. Emma Cookson, director-strategic planning at Leo Burnett-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, said product placement is "everybody's dream, nobody's reality. It is a classic buzzword that everyone talks about."

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