What is Integration?

I was perusing the Spin Board over the weekend and I saw a lot of responses that dealt with the integration of traditional and interactive media, but overwhelmingly these responses were attacking the question from differing points of view. I was unable to come to a strong, concrete conclusion after reading these opinions, so I thought I would ask the basic question, "What is integration?"

Is integration the concept of traditional planners and interactive planners being the same?

Is integration the idea that traditional planners and interactive planners are in the same room while planning?

Is integration the idea that budgets flow from one bucket to the other without obstacle or difficulty?

I don't think any of these answers the question. Integration in advertising is much more difficult since we have to balance the practical business implications with the idealistic notion of the idea.

In practical business terms, interactive planning is typically viewed as a shorter turn-around, less involved, more accountable form of advertising. Print and TV are longer term, more involved, less accountable forms of advertising. Direct Mail, Direct Response TV, and even Outdoor are somewhere in the middle as many of these are more accountable, and require less of a lead time, but they can be more or less involved depending on the parameters of the campaigns you are planning. For integration to truly be considered, the planning cycles and the parameters by which we plan must become more alike than they currently are.



Everyone knows that all advertising is becoming more accountable, this is not a surprise. For agencies and advertisers to truly develop more integrated plans, they must all accept that interactive advertising needs a longer lead-time and that traditional advertising is going to become more accountable. You cannot develop an integrated plan in 3-4 weeks, which seems to be the industry norm for developing interactive campaigns. On the same note, you cannot develop an integrated campaign if each of your media vehicles is being held to a different metric.

Once advertisers accept these principles, then you can start to examine the question logistically. For integrated planning to occur, either a senior media person or the account people need to live above the different vehicles. These cannot be media people from the offline agency or from the interactive agency; they need to be independent of either one. These can be third parties, or these can be agency people incentivized to think across the board rather than in a silo. These people need to be representative of the best intentions for the client and they need to be focused on client growth rather than agency growth.

Once we have the practical business ideals and the logistics in place, the hard part comes. Incorporating the flexibility of accountability into an integrated effort. In the interactive space, everyone is used to reallocation, cancellation and optimization. These are the fundamentals of the industry. In traditional advertising, these are less the case and are more difficult to implement. By this notion, interactive media professionals are better suited to the fast paced environment while traditional media professionals are more aware of the intricacies of offline advertising.

How do we work out this little quandary? By Training. Training is going to become more important as we train each discipline to understand the other. Training across media will provide us with eventual senior talent that understands advertising rather than one singular form of advertising. Training now will prepare your agency and your marketing team for the eventual integration that will come as we progress into the future. This might be 2 years, it might be 5 years, but it is essential to keeping costs down in a period of ever-decreasing margins.

Don't you agree?

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