Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: It's Taking Part That Counts

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: It's Taking Part That Counts

Article excerpt

The case for participation-led integration should be predicated on the hidden costs of not doing it.

About 10 years ago, I was at the ISBA conference listening to Bruce Haines, then chief executive of Leo Burnett, making a laudable stab at arguing that clients should spend more on creativity. A reasoned and impassioned exposition, naturally, it went down like Fred Goodwin asking for better pension rights.

After polite applause, Carol Fisher, then chief executive of the COI, rose from the back of the audience and turned the tables. Jabbing her finger at Haines (from 100 feet away), she lambasted the ad industry for failing to deliver integration, focusing too narrowly on advertising-led ideas.

Suddenly we had something interesting to focus on, and some of the audience woke up. Bruce had just been handed the keys to a COI roster agency though, and was in full oil-on-troubled-waters-pouring mode, dodging the bullet before masterfully moving the debate on. So the audience missed out on the real answer.

The COI, like most big advertisers, had departments dedicated to PR, media, digital, publications, planning, events and so on Organisationally, it was far from integrated; arguably, agencies are but its reflection.

So can advertisers and agencies deliver integration? Yes, says a report - 'New models of marketing effective-ness' - published recently by WARC, and they are doing it in three ways. Advertising-led integration, where a common creative platform leads; brand idea-led orchestration, where there is unification around a brand idea; and participation-led orchestration, where the aim is to create a conversation between brand and audience.

The research looked at 256 case studies from the IPA databank, examining the relationship between the different categories of integration and effectiveness.

So what conclusions were drawn about digital? The participation-led category describes that fast-growing practice of building relationships with consumers by giving them a platform for their opinion. User-generated content, forums, blogs, Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook are seen as changing the relationship between brand and consumer.

However, participation is the dog that hasn't barked, the report observes. For all the noise, few case studies were centred on social media.

As the authors note, it's early days. With participation-led integration, however, the report implied it contributed little, not registering against 'hard' measures of ROI. …

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