Digital fuels integration boom

As businesses embark on some serious belt tightening, many brands are turning their attention towards integrated campaigns in an effort to increase cost effectiveness. Daney Parker reports

Even if a business is lucky enough to have cash to invest in a wide range of marketing activities, now is not the time to blow budgets. Any budget that is available must be squeezed, then squeezed again, to gain maximum results. With integrated campaigns this often means focusing on the areas that are measurable to the detriment of sectors such as TV, which are less easy to evaluate.

However, with every marketing discipline claiming it can deliver remarkable results, it is not easy to work out how to allocate spend.

Traditional marketing models are no longer enough, according to Paul English, managing partner of digital agency Brand Advocate.

Media landscape

He believes that so much has changed over the past few years that there is not just a new media landscape, but one that is so complex with its social and economic dynamics, that many agencies and brands are only just beginning to comprehend it.

He adds: “We see many good descriptions of these dynamics, but not a lot of insight into how to leverage them.”

With marketers re-examining their media models, it is no surprise that companies are pulling back TV advertising and pausing before spending at all. English says: “Downturns are an excellent time for brands to assess what’s worth spending money on, and among direct marketing, search, online media and most other digitally enabled channels, TV comes up short on accountability.”

As TV takes less of a starring role, having one big idea at the centre of an integrated campaign is less popular. Media mixes often employ lots of ideas tailored to smaller audiences, but which create a bigger impact and drive measurable results.

With the level of information now available, it is possible to create more personalised campaigns. There is no excuse for sending out a direct mailing pack, for example, that is irrelevant to most recipients. Kevin Pembroke, solutions director at Formpro Mail Marketing, says that as well as improved personalisation, direct mail costs are coming down as technologies improve the printing process. He gives the example of work Formpro is doing with a utilities company to streamline personalised contacts by incorporating different documents into one.

Pembroke adds that more costs can be saved because documents can now be sent as an email or web response. This raises the question as to how much direct mail should be sent out, and when it is more environmentally friendly and cheaper to go digital.

Richard Hill, head of planning at integrated agency Touch DDB, believes that direct mail has many strengths, and should be used when a subject needs to be explained in detail, benefits from repeated viewing or is targeted at people who prefer this medium to more cost-effective channels. But he adds: “It is more expensive than digital and this should always be tested as an alternative. In many areas, such as recruitment of financial services or fundraising, targeted cold recruitment is rarely as effective online as it is in direct mail.”

When it comes to the live event part of the media mix, going digital is again a cost saver, especially when measuring the effectiveness of events. Julian Pullan, managing director of experiential agency Jack Morton Worldwide, says the most effective live events are using ever more sophisticated digital techniques to gather information about delegates, and one key time to achieve this is during registration by capturing data online.

As no data is useful in isolation, Pullan adds that the real skill is in interpreting it to obtain meaningful measures against the desired audience: “Prior to an event, organisers should always seek to establish a benchmark in terms of delegate awareness, knowledge and attitude. Similar metrics post-event then mean they can gauge what impact the experience has actually had on attendees and delegates.”

Experiential activity

Hugh Robertson, managing partner at experiential marketing agency RPM, believes that capturing data during experiential activity can provide information that enriches every element of the campaign and creates a long-lasting relationship with consumers. “The key to success in any integrated work is making sure that each element not only works with the others, but learns from and informs them too.”

With so many elements to control, one question marketers in charge of integrated campaigns have to consider is whether they are better off going to individual specialist agencies or turning to one agency to take control. Touch DDB’s Hill points out that the aim is not just saving gross cost but being cost effective. He adds: “The nature of the programme will determine which is most effective. Big brand and DM campaigns loosely integrated with design or offer can be well integrated by different specialist agencies.

“However, single-source campaigns are most often likely to have the best idea at their heart. Specialist agencies cannot avoid the bias of the channels they work with while truly integrated agencies can focus on the best idea regardless of channel.”

Marie Myles, director of marketing consulting at Experian’s Integrated Marketing, argues: “The real question should be about how integrated the client is, not the agency. Brands need to look at customers and prospects across all channels and put insight at the heart of marketing planning. This is what will drive more impactful interactions with customers rather than hoping that an agency can do it for them.”

The problem remains for brand owners is that no matter how great their understanding of integration, and whichever agencies they turn to, they will probably be encouraged to spend more than they had originally planned. 

Cut costs without impacting campaign effectiveness

When the budgetary axe falls, activities are all too often cut without realising how critical they are to the effectiveness of the campaign. Individual elements within integrated campaigns tend to work together to provide an overall better return on marketing investment than if they were managed in silos.

To achieve cost savings while ensuring that you don’t remove any of the elements of the integrated campaign that make the whole thing work, first understand the dynamics of the mix. Each different media channel involved in the campaign ideally makes its own contribution to the campaign’s total effect, as well as working in synergy with other elements. But there are occasions where there is duplication of effect, so pre-testing the whole mix before going live can identify if there is anything that can be left out or if any individual activity is not pulling its weight.

Alternatively, conduct cross-media research analysis on a live campaign to determine which parts of the campaign are having the most significant impact on the desired outcome. It is then much easier to adjust upcoming waves of your campaign or future campaigns without affecting overall results and ensuring that you get the optimum cost efficiency.

Claire Dewhurst, research director at Millward Brown

Case Study: Sky Sports London freewheel

Experiential agency RPM used digital media to create post-event consumer engagement as part of its experiential activity across Sky Sports’ sponsorship of the London Freewheel event in September this year.

The agency planned to photograph all participants and champion them alongside British cycling Olympic gold medalists Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. The aim was to create the UK’s largest free high-res photo album from a single event and have it uploaded it within 24 hours of the event finishing.

RPM created www.smileforskysports.com, where participants could download photographs taken by its in-house photographers. With five photographers at multiple locations, each shooting over 1,000 images an hour, it was no mean feat to get every photo transferred, edited and uploaded in such a short time.

Over 1 million pages were viewed within 24 hours, with over 200Gb of data downloaded in one day alone. By midnight the day after the event, RPM had made over 1 million unique pages available for viewing to over 15,000 visitors. To date, visitors from 64 countries have accessed nearly 2 million pages, spending on average 11 minutes each browsing and downloading images.

Further brand engagement was created with the Find The Golden Image competition to win a Sky Plus package. Randomly selected participant photos were turned gold in the picture and winners could claim their prize via email. All five golden images were found by the individual winners, providing clear measurement that participants had been able to locate themselves among the 25,000 images.

Using Google Analytics to compare smileforskysports.com with other websites in the entertainment category revealed a 10,000% increase on average pages, a 2,100% increase on number of pages per visitor, a 400% increase against the average time on a site and a 342% increase on average visitors. Similar, if not greater, results were found comparing against photo and video, social networks and internet group categories within Google.

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