Integration: Courting craftier consumers

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Consumers are the all-important arbiters in the marketplace, choosing the messages they want to engage while ignoring the vast majority of ad clutter, according to integrated-marketing experts speaking at AdWatch.

The challenge for marketers and agencies is to figure out how to reach the majority of Americans who don't care about a marketer's product or service and don't want to be pitched.

"Consumers don't want all these messages. ... There are far too many messages and the challenge is to get relevant," said David Kenny, chairman-CEO of Digitas, whose clients include Delta Air Lines, AT&T Corp. and American Express.

Marketers face a consumer base increasingly adept at deflecting ads: Consumers skip ads using personal video recorders such as TiVo, watch more ad-free premium cable networks and install software to block banner ads and e-mail solicitations.

listen to consumers

The key to finding out how to reach consumers is in understanding their behavior, said Alan Schultz, president-CEO, Valassis, a marketing-services company.

Marketers, Mr. Schultz said, need to deliver "messages to consumers in the medium of their choice and a medium that they'll respond to," such as print, direct mail, TV or the Internet, through consumer-friendly opt-in opportunities.

"We use the Web to mine data," said Cheryl Idell, president of Intermedia Advertising Group, which offers a Web site called RewardTV. The site asks viewers questions about their favorite TV shows, providing advertisers with insight on consumers' recall of show content and advertising.

Marketers' demand for integrated marketing services is growing. Mr. Kenny said he believes the direct-marketing business for travel, retail and financial-services categories will grow two to four times as fast as other segments. Product-based companies, such as consumer package goods and auto marketers, will need to improve how they share data with various sales channels, he said.

Mr. Schultz said Valassis breaks integrated marketing down into three segments-mass media, cluster-targeted media by demographic and geographic groups, and one-to-one methods. Of those, he said, one-to-one marketing via the Internet and other media will grow the most, at around 20% this year.

Agencies need to do a better job of providing truly integrated-marketing resources, Mr. Schultz said. "Media companies and agencies," he said, "are forcing the [marketer] to connect all the dots and deal with five different sales people."

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