(This article was first published in Marketing Magazine’s blog on 11th April 2013)
One of the hottest topics in marketing today is how to make the best of all the communications channels now available and how to make the transition towards integrating social media.
Brands face an incredibly complex challenge as they have to play with many dials at the same time: traditional ads, digital, web, mobile, apps, social, behavioural. All are tightly intertwined, creating flurries of new metrics, new challenges and new opportunities.
Old habits can be tough to break and given the rate of change in our industry it’s a challenging time for many client partners and the services (creative, media, digital, search, social, PR etc.) that orbit their world.
There is no shortage of published opinions on the matter and new models of thinking continue to be hyped by their advocates, often with little empirical evidence to support the hype.
In this article I want to look backwards so we can better see forwards.
All the way back in 2011 the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the UK (IPA) published a paper called “New Models of Marketing Effectiveness – from Integration to Orchestration.”
This is a practical guide to integration, analysing the different methods of structuring and organising marketing communications, and exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each approach against specific business objectives, market sectors and budget sizes.
The full report is an in-depth analysis of over 250 case studies entered for the past seven years’ IPA Effectiveness Awards, focusing specifically on the media and creative approaches to integration which brands have taken – and crucially how these have translated into real business results.
Four different campaign approaches were identified:-
- Campaigns with no level of integration – either because they only use one media channel, or because they are genuinely disorganised, with radically unconnected executions
- Advertising-led integration around a common creative executional idea – this is the traditional ‘matching luggage’ approach (eg. advertising linked by a celebrity, a piece of music, an art direction style etc.)
- Brand idea-led orchestration – campaigns loosely based around a shared brand concept. (socially integrated)
- Participation-led orchestration – campaigns organised around some form of consumer participation or experience. (socially integrated)
Over the last 7-years (2004-2011 inc.) there have been some interesting shifts in campaign approach.
Notably the matching luggage approach has fallen away from 66% of campaigns to 39%, a drop off of over 40%.
Conversely brand-led and participation-led campaigns have collectively increased to 52% from 19%, an increase of over 250%.
Full results are here
These trends are based upon the most successful case histories submitted to the IPA over the last 7-years and we see a clear transition from campaigns unified by execution to campaigns connected by central brand values.
Three years on the biggest challenge for socially centric participation-led and brand idea-led continues to be that they require bravery.
The biggest barrier, in our experience, is the legacy internal structures that many clients have in place which make it difficult for them to ‘buy’ campaigns which involve complex communications interactions across channels. (For example online might lie with the marketing department, web content with the PR silo and social media the remit of customer service etc.)
Coupled with this is the considerable investment in time and change of behaviour from both clients and agencies. It is no longer enough for a client simply to brief its agency/ies and await the response. What is needed is a collaborative approach to marketing campaign development and clear metrics to measure effect.
So beware social media COI as we make the transition from ‘matching luggage’ to campaigns that cede control, allowing consumers to get to the destination they want by themselves.