Inundated with a plethora of rapidly evolving consumers, platforms, data and technology, understanding how to connect these complex and seemingly disparate parts can seem like an overwhelming hurdle for many marketers.
In an enlightening and in-depth Marketing roundtable discussion, held in association with annual industry event Cross Media, key players with client, media and creative perspectives shared their insights on the trends and challenges of integration.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN CREATING INTEGRATED MARKETING?
Craig Morgan, innovation director, Grey London Agencies don’t give people the capacity to learn and specialisms are created for revenue streams. In the current climate, clients are asking for a lot more for a lot less. It’s about creating a culture where people are allowed to learn and have permission to try new things. It’s changing so quickly and you need a really fluid structure that allows people to mix.
Marco Scognamiglio, chief executive, RAPP We have been working to integrate our media, data and technology businesses into one offering to clients. There are challenges as a business as well as with clients.
The most significant challenge is realising that we need to do what we always used to do as marketers – that is, to understand customers. We accept today that brands are no longer what we the agencies or clients say they are. The experience and conversation customers have with other people haven’t changed. It’s even more important that we work harder to understand consumers.
Dominic Grounsell, marketing director-personal, More Th>n From a client point of view, it’s measurement and return on investment, because that’s incredibly difficult with multiple channels running simultaneously. We struggle with that, as do most clients. A second challenge is fighting fadism. There’s too much of that in the industry.
Bob Wootton director of media and advertising, ISBA In a single word, ownership. This subdivides into a number of uncomfortable and inconvenient things. It could be ownership within the advertisers, between marketing, procurement and ecommerce, or agencies, and, particularly, within the social space. What do you do with that as a customer? Who owns the consumer insight? Is there enough of it? Who owns the implementation? My suggestion is, no one, yet.
Steve Willmore, co-founder, Monk Our agency is a mix of (people with) client and agency backgrounds. We found that too many agencies fall down when asked, ‘how’s that going to make me money?’
When we set up Monk we wanted to do things differently. The challenge is, how do you market to the individual? It follows from what Marco says about the customer, but how do you go one stage further? We put customers into brackets and groups, but is that good enough any more? Not everyone wants to engage with your brand in the same way. Integrated marketing is really key, but only if it’s on the level the customer wants to engage with.
James Papworth, marketing director, PPA The most important thing is metrics – working out what to measure. The problem sometimes is that we measure what’s measurable and the objective of the campaign becomes the metric. As more campaigns become integrated, there’s more to measure. How do you pick out which part is doing what? It’s a case of being uncomfortable, as has been mentioned, and being prepared to measure or look into things which you don’t quite know where they are going to go.
Jem Lloyd-Williams, head of digital strategy, MediaCom I think there is a lot of fantastic integrated marketing going on. Not all of it is by design, I think some of it just happens naturally and someone then has the courage to run with it, which we encourage all our clients to do. From a media perspective, on paper it looks really simple, but it’s not in practice. There are too many people trampling on a good idea because they have got to get a fee out of it at the end of it. That’s the kind of world we live in at the moment.
Andy Thornhill, marketing manager, Cross Media One of our biggest challenges, from a print perspective, is breaking down those sector barriers that people have instilled in them in the print industry, the beliefs of what they are capable of and their fear of not taking ownership of something that goes beyond printed material to a much wider marketplace. Our aim is to break down those barriers, and certainly Cross Media hopes to do that.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGING TRENDS IN THE WAY IN WHICH PEOPLE CONSUME MEDIA THAT BRANDS AND BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT?
Lloyd-Williams I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a media planner. Everything is connected now. There isn’t a reason why a press ad can’t connect to your website. There isn’t a reason your TV commercial can’t activate on a mobile phone or whatever technology you use.
Slowly but surely, all these fads that we were being sold three or four years ago as ‘the’ big thing, are actually becoming relatively [mainstream] and worthwhile. Consumers are seeing merit in using a form of interruption or engagement to take them to another layer of content.
We all need to step back slightly, though; it doesn’t have to have everything in it. It’s about plotting journeys for particular consumer types, understanding where the medium will work best for them and making connections when they are useful and feasible. Consumers are realising that interactive in media gives them something a little bit extra. Brands are putting decent journeys together and layering their content and experiences in a more meaningful way, which is all-round integration.
Scognamiglio There are so many different routes to content for consumers, so much content they can find that is relevant to them, [and] there are many more platforms to find it.
Flipboard or even Google+ allows you to bring all those different sources together to effectively create your own content environment.
How do we help facilitate all that content out there, which is relevant for brands, in one place for consumers? What platforms can we offer to help facilitate brands’ content in the way these services do?
Grounsell There are many trends, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Essentially, as a marketer, you’re here to engage people with something interesting, persuade them of some kind of message and get them to act. At the core, that’s the same thing we are trying to do in every brand, in every category – all that has changed is the means.
I hate the expression ‘you don’t own your brand’, because we’ve never owned them. Social sites have amplified the ability to tell people what you do or don’t like about a brand. The danger is getting so hung up on means; the channel becomes an end in itself. Why should toothpaste or an insurance product have a Facebook page? To create engagement in a low-interest category by copying a brand with high interest inevitably leads to distance with your consumer, and that’s a danger. However, as a brand manger or marketing director, if you’re not doing those things, you’re not considered brave or bold. If you question why you would do something, you are considered out of touch. They are the tensions marketing directors wrestle with all the time.
WHAT STRUGGLES ARE BRANDS HAVING WHEN IT COMES TO CONSUMERS?
Wootton The person who’s controlling the budget, let’s call them the marketing director – all roads come back to them. If there isn’t a fairly firm hand, it will go awry, as everyone has a vested interest to come up with a solution.
As Dominic said, you are trying to impart a message with a shortor longer-term effect. The short-term effect is to transact; however, the longer-term effect is to feel good about that brand, so when you come to transact, you’re going to transact with them. That’s it. The most brilliant and successful marketer could do that simply by making it easy for that consumer. If it makes it easier for that consumer to be entertained, even by a haemorrhoid cream, brilliant. It’s just about that and the means are endless.
Morgan You have to appreciate there are different consumers who want different levels of engagement. There are some who want to interact with a toothpaste brand. I wouldn’t.
We work on toothpaste brands that don’t have Facebook pages, but I think you have to look at what they want, and it probably means you having to adapt slightly to what we define as creativity. Because actually, if you’re looking at utility, relevance, context or location, there could be something very useful (as a toothpaste brand) that you could give someone via these new technologies.
And it’s not necessarily campaigns; we have to get ourselves out of ‘campaign mode’ and into giving customers what they want.
For some, that means a difficult shift from a definite start-stop and media plan. We talk about not finishing our campaigns now; letting people take them, have a go with them, replicate them. I think you have to try new stuff and relinquish a little bit of control.
Papworth Looking at what Craig said, technology is just a way to distribute the same thing – we can’t do that in publishing. We learned early on that consumers of the same content wanted different forms of that content on different platforms. As technology moves on, it’s different across different elements of publishing. Some are further ahead digitally than others. As audiences are aware of technology changing, they are demanding content on the platform in the way they want.
From a publishing perspective, it causes problems. To facilitate that, you need specialisms within the business. There’s an audience ready and waiting to be addressed and to carry advertising to in a receptive manner. There’s money to be made, but it’s working out how you divert the resources that you’re currently using in one place to another.
Willmore We’ve been presented with so many different media, which makes life harder for people like Jem. You’re no longer able to predict a person’s buying behaviours. It’s about relevancy – we’ve got to make things relevant to customers because we can’t predict their buying patterns.
We’re all busy, we all have lives. We’ve got all this noise going on, so not only have we got to communicate (and) be relevant at the right time, but we have to reach that minutest spot among all that information to actually engage. Technology is hindering us, but it can help us if we use it in the right way.
Thornhill As consumers have become more aware, their whole reaction to technology, marketing and media has radically changed. Trying to benchmark that becomes more difficult. As a marketer, you’re trying to cut through all that media clutter. Certainly, for people attending our events, it causes a fear factor about using new technologies that makes them stick to what they know, because they know how to do that well.
WHAT ARE YOUR METRICS OF SUCCESS FOR BRANDS?
Grounsell For something like Dove, integration is matching luggage, and that’s an FMCG model. Over time, integration has evolved into something much more interesting.
You can do sophisticated things with data and targeting in the digital space in conjunction with traditional media channels to create a much more immersive campaign. The data you can pull from a campaign like that to inform your thinking and evolve your work is incredibly powerful.
What keeps me awake is trying to do that while also delivering for my organisation. The importance of certainty and predictability can’t be overestimated. The risks of taking on large-scale new campaigns and channels are huge. Your credibility’s at stake if you make the wrong call. In that respect, as a marketer, who do I trust? Who’s a snake-oil salesman and who’s the new Mark Zuckerberg? As a marketer, I have to deliver certainty to my chief executive. That’s a particular challenge.
Lloyd-Williams It is hard. Technically, and on paper, things sound incredibly simple and easy. The snake oil is usually related to how easy things are.
Tech is exciting. It is absolutely the right thing we should focus some of our time on. Most campaigns that sing and give consumers a pleasurable marketing experience are simple or immersive and engaging, but they all have a small element of technical innovation.
Grounsell When things are increasingly opaque and people don’t understand how fast the digital marketing agenda is moving, I’ve found it very easy to tell finance directors or chief executives that we’re going to put a set amount of money into this innovation, but we have no real idea what it’s going to do.
The transparency of uncertainty helps.
By over-promising and under-delivering, marketing and innovation loses credibility within organisations.
Morgan The honest answer very often is that we don’t know, and you can be criticised for not being proactive or innovative enough sometimes.
Scognamiglio Agencies need to get better at balancing input, output and outcomes and be braver about looking at evaluating work afterward, so that integration can be better defined. Our client Race for Life is very digitally driven now.
Previously the focus was on ROI of average donations through sponsorship. Our main metric now is connection value.
People’s digital behaviour encourages others to donate to Cancer Research UK, and we therefore look at the value they bring as a result of other people. That’s connection value. The whole way we look at measurability has changed.
When we went in with the idea, we thought about what the analytics should be like after-ward, because you need to go to the finance director with a commercial answer too.
HOW DE WE ENSURE INTEGRATION IN THE MEDIA CHAIN?
Willmore So many agencies work with one brand and they all try to protect their own area. That creates conflict. How can we, as agencies, bring the different departments within the brand together?
I always ask a client: ‘Do you really understand what this person in your marketing team is also trying to deliver? What’s their bonus based on? Do you really understand that?’ If you can understand that and get them working together, it gives you a greater chance.
There are too many people who want to protect their own role and it’s a result of the corporate culture and especially the economic climate. But, if you work together, you achieve an awful lot more. That would help the integrated approach, because it would tackle a number of things.
Wootton First of all, it starts with the client, and second, the only way to achieve that is making sure everyone has skin in the game. It means everyone on that team is mutually accountable, so you can tell whoever: ‘That’s not in our collective best interest.’
Until you can have that conversation, you’re going to waste a vast amount of energy and the client’s money. It’s very, very hard to do, especially if you think about the different business models. There are some huge obstacles in achieving this, but until you can get everyone in the same room and say that, you can’t do it.
Lloyd-Williams At MediaCom, it’s about making better connections. That’s a simple metaphor for integration. Be better connected to your clients.
Talk to them about things they are worried about and understand their business first, then their brand, then you might get some communications that work. Have someone leading the team connecting everyone and all the component parts, including media owners, technology and data on a regular basis.
Papworth There’s an element of polarisation. Bigger media brands have good relationships with bigger clients and there’s a real sense of integration. There’s difficulty with smaller brands, sub-brands or smaller media-owners.
If you expect media-owners to really buy into and understand a brand, that takes time and effort and they can’t do it for everyone, every time. Encourage people to re-engage with the brand and go the extra yard again. For big brands, it’s happening, but for mid-tier brands it’s more difficult.
Thornhill It’s about accountability and approachability, and we do that very clearly at things like this round table and events like Cross Media, when we become approachable and have these conversations and build these relationships. We all have very similar problems at our desks day-to-day.
A TALE OF TWO BRANDS
Ford and Volvo test-drive new agency models.
To support a more integrated approach, automotive brands have brought their separate agencies together under one umbrella.
Team Detroit was formed by WPP in 2006 to service its client Ford. Based in the US car manufacturer’s home city, Detroit, it unites communication arms from JWT, Y&R, Wunderman, Ogilvy and Mindshare. Team Detroit now services Mazda and has won further client briefs for US brands. The model has since been applied across other WPP clients such as HSBC and Vodafone. Blue Hive combines Ford’s UK agencies in the same way.
Amsterdam-based Team Volvo, formed in 2010, united its creative agencies Havas’ Arnold, Euro RSCG 4D and SapientNitro, but not its media agencies. However, in December 2011, the brand appointed Arnold as its lead global agency, dismantling the alliance.
While Ford’s approach has thrived, Volvo returned to its traditional agency method, demonstrating that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to integration.
– Clients need to pilot integration.
– Make choices based on consumer insights and desired outcomes.
– Create organisational structures that facilitate good relationships.
– Take a risk. Optimise the rest in order to gain the space to try new things.
– Plan your measurement. Short-term ROI has its place, but think beyond that too