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Opinion: Surprisingly, integration is still a hot topic

The debate about integrating on and offline media into one agency seems to have been around for so long that you might be inclined to think that it is no longer the hot topic it once was. That said I firmly believe that given today's economic climate the issue of integration is more relevant and necessary for clients to consider than ever before.

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One significant reason is the redundancies faced by both agencies and client marketing departments -- take for example the recent situation at Channel 4. With these widespread threats, can a client get value for money by employing separate DM, display online media, offline media and search-only agencies for every campaign compared to the economies of scale that could be achieved by a one-agency solution?

Co-ordinating this number of agencies is no mean feat at the best of times and if a client has any kind of performance metric in place, then every minute of delay in receiving results or reapportioning budgets across more than twenty different media channels is evidently going to hit their ROI. No one can afford that now.

To add to the debate, with the end of Google's BPF fast approaching, questions are also being asked if search-only agencies can remain competitive.

They are up against increasingly mighty mainstream media agencies which are closely aligned with offline activity and provide better below-the-line results.

Many digital specialists are increasingly losing their biggest clients to traditional agency networks and behind the scenes we're hearing from search engines that traditional agencies are now winning more major search pitches than search-only agencies.

With this is mind, surely the debate regarding integration should be put to rest once and for all?

The answer to this debate is obvious. An integrated proposition of online, offline, above and below the line is more vital now than ever before. Not only for the strategic planning it allows but also for the value a client can achieve.

Marketing departments will be able to tighten their budget and avoid unnecessary redundancies without the risk of damaging activity levels and campaign effectiveness.

The rise of prominence of integrated media solutions should now be complete and given the reality of the world out there right now, not a moment too soon.

Kevin Murphy, Joint Managing Director, Zed Media

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