It’s time for the new integration

Digital, advertising, or social isn't enough anymore. Nick Gill, Planning Director at Doner, explains why new thinking on integration is so desperately needed. [From an article originally published in Marketing Week in 2010.]

Some people would have you believe that advertising is dead. Some claim that digital is old hat (check out the multiple blog posts on our "post-digital world"). Even the Digirati are heralding the new online king, Social Media the First.

But there's something wrong here. This is all channel-based thinking. Thinking that suggests one media must rule them all.


The real story

Advertising isn't dead. It's thriving. And evolving. We're watching more TV than ever before but in new and interesting ways, and on new and interesting devices. The traditional 'spot' is morphing into short-film, often released as excerpts or episodes, to encourage sharing and get people clamouring for more. Outdoor has evolved to become interactive, and even press can now take the form of video.

Digital isn't dead. It's thriving. And evolving. Social might still be in its infancy, but it's maturing each day. Some brands have already gone a long way to weave social media into their activities; others are still experimenting.

But, with each new technology and experience that arrives, comes new and exciting ways to realise the potential of connecting brands, consumers and communities.

"In a time when people are disagreeing over what media takes top spot, and what is the next big thing, a little calm and a lot of perspective is required."


Despite the evolution of advertising, digital and social, it seems that brands and agencies are still pledging their allegiance to just one or two of these disciplines. 'Integrated' appears to be a dirty word these days.

Why? Maybe because integrated smacks of what advertising agencies used to do when they were scared of wave upon wave of digital 'stuff' and either bought new media shops or just said they did everything anyway.

In those days, what integrated really meant was augmented advertising. An ad campaign that had a matching microsite and a few half-hearted banner ads featuring the main campaign image and a gratuitous "click here". As long as everything carried the same strapline it ticked the box called integrated.


Welcome to the new integration

Digital has come a long way since then. Broadband is now ubiquitous, social networking is a way of life and 3 and 4G mobile means we're always on, wherever we are. In fact, digital is making advertising more exciting. It's providing more opportunities to create, distribute, engage, share, entertain, participate and amplify. It's moved advertising from being more accessible to being an opportunity for conversation.

So, it's time to revisit integrated.

The new integration is about digital enabling an idea, making it meaningful and participatory. It's about taking an idea beyond the screen and into the real world.

As users, we don't passively view or actively participate in silos. We don't think in these terms, we just do what we do. Mashing is second nature; we'll happily listen to the radio while we drive, or use the laptop or mobile while we watch TV.

We blend.

We instinctively demand more integrated experiences from brands. And we expect them on-demand.

At the same time, we expect relevant, meaningful experiences. We demand relevance because we live in a connected, seamless world fuelled by technology where things that have no value can be filtered out as unnecessary noise. This is most relevant to us as advertisers.

Framed Blender

We need to be jettisoning the silos and getting the right people together to create these multi-layered, seamless experiences. People who understand digital and all its possibilities within a broader context, as well as those who understand how to make brands interesting.

Digital needs to come up from the basement. Social needs to come out of the bedroom. Advertising needs to come out of the lounge. Media needs to come in from the kitchen. And analytics needs to come out of the cupboard. And they all need to meet in the room that hasn't been built yet. And do something extraordinary. Something relevant. And interesting. Together. And when this meeting has taken place, we can use spaces in the right way. We can be cohesive, and encourage deeper engagement, amplification and participation in order to ignite ideas. Not ideas that are dictated by channel but ideas that are just really good.

Integrated ideas

The new integration is about concepts that are born from smart, strategic thinking, that is curated from culturally good stuff and leans towards new technological possibilities. Ideas that are born of information, insight, and knowledge. Ideas that don't stop at launch, or after a six-week burst of media spend, but evolve through participation, active analytics and by absorbing content and engaged communities.

We're talking here about concepts that can be activated in interesting and extraordinary ways to challenge conventions, demand attention and harness the interactivity and social contagiousness that digital offers. Concepts that draw on both the consumer understanding of advertising, and the analytical rigour of direct marketing, then combine them with the possibilities of the digital, social and mobile world.


The drive for new integration

When you take a step back, it's clear that huge cultural shifts are driving the need for this new integration.

Just doing digital, or advertising, or social isn't enough anymore. The new integration is about the seamless convergence of all of them.

That's what's truly needed.

That's what we're building here at Doner.