IAA Viewpoint: the physics of integrated marketing
Let's put aside the conventions of ROI, OTS, NPS, RR et al for a minute and look at the notion of integrated marketing through the eyes of some very clever people, writes Alan Rutherford, global chief executive of Digitas.
After all, we concern ourselves with the theoretical nature of how what we do 'fits together' in the world of marketing almost as much as Schroedinger and Turing did in the world of science - so maybe we can learn from them.
Let's take the feline physicist first: Schroedinger's Cat, in basic terms, concerns itself with understanding all possible states that something can have; all possible physical positions, all life/death states. All of these positions make up the 'superposition' of this thing, yet at the moment when we try to measure it, it stops being a mixture of states and presents itself as one particular form.
It's not exactly a quantum leap to marketing: after all, we so often become bogged-down in the detail of a single-minded message we're KPI'd to care about that we fail to consider the importance of it in the greater scheme of things. If we're not taking an integrated view of measurement, if we're not taking the pulse of the market into which we throw our carefully calculated creative, then it might as well be thrown into a black hole.
Thankfully there are more tools in our industry now that allow us, real-time, and with real people (not panels) to gauge what messages people really care about, what 'superposition' is taken on an issue, and what we can say that will have greatest resonance. Problem is: very few of us actually use them.
Alan Turing, as early as 1950, asked the question: 'can machines think?' Through a series of games and questions, he sought to determine whether computers can replicate the decision-making capabilities of the human mind on a purely physical level, or (to paraphrase) they need an element of 'soul' to be a truly intelligent.
Artificial Intelligence is what we marketers have started using when it comes to determining success of integrated campaigns. The advent of 'net promoter scores' is one excellent example. The theory here is that if you deduct the number of people saying bad stuff about your brand or product from the number of people saying good stuff (or vice versa) then you'll end up with a sense of the direction your brand's heading in.
All very logical, until you consider the 'soul' element of this, because some people's views are worth more than others: they have greater influence, they can take your brand further, and computers may not know this. In fact, in order to prevent bad and good vibes simply canceling each other out, some of the better buzz-metric tools have resorted to using humans to help out their computers.
If we're to become truly good at integrated marketing, I'd argue we need to understand on a broader, more comprehensive and emotional level whether what we're doing is getting through. Our audiences are not purely rational, nor do they exist in vacuums. So as well as our automated rational techno-tools that scour the web, we may actually have to pay more real people to start listening.
Our approach is to factor in the HR as well as the IT. We're employing analysts and editors who can listen, measure, understand - and respond; demonstrating we're aware of what's going on, what people are really saying, and that we too have an opinion that chimes with those of our audience. It's not just about paying an intern to respond to forum posts, true integration is sometimes about altering PR and offline media strategies where appropriate.
Because with the great potential of integrated measurement comes great responsibility.
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