Integrating marketing communications: new findings, new lessons and new ideas

Rajeev Batra and Kevin Lane Keller (2016): Integrating Marketing Communications: New Findings, New Lessons, and New Ideas. Journal of Marketing, Vol. 80 Issue 6, p122-145. 24p. DOI:

Keywords: marketing communications, marketing integration, integrated marketing communications, traditional media, digital media

New media has impacted consumers in a drastic way, changing media usage patterns and disturbing how information is sought, where consumers look for it, and how the decide to choose a brand. Nowadays, increase of popularity in multitasking has led customers to a continuous state of partial attention. Consumers have a different dynamic when taking a decision to purchase due to search engines, blogs, brand websites, etc. These new tools lead consumers to actively seek information rather than passively receive it from traditional media.

The current situation has lead word-of-mouth and brand advocacy to be vital to current communication strategies, however, this has reduced marketer’s control over the information that arrives to customers. Nevertheless, these new trends improve personalization, content, location and timing of the communications and opens new possibilities for accomplishing their objectives as marketers have a wider selection of communication possibilities.

Due to the numerous communication channels, marketers must think about the message as well as the context of their communication or “interactive effects”. It is mentioned that there is interaction between new and old media such as TV, social media, mobiles, off-line word-of-mouth, etc.

To adapt to the new situation, the author proposes two communication models:

  1. “Bottoms-up” communication matching model: identifies communication options with the best ability to satisfy a customer at different stages of the consumer decision journey.
  2. “Top-down” communication optimization model: evaluates the design of a marketing communication program with relevant criteria to how it is integrated to short-term sales goals and long-term brand equity.

As for integrating marketing communications, two types of approaches are discussed. First, the micro approaches using consumer psychology and information processing principles to explore the impact of multi-media campaigns in different communication goals. Then, a second approach using econometric techniques to assess the effect of multi-media campaigns at brand-level. Additionally, consistency, complementarity and cross-effect among media and communication options are mentioned as the three most important factor for a successful integrated marketing communications program.

A new consumer decision journey circle is mentioned. The new concept begins by the consideration of an initial set of brands which the potential user forms a first consideration, then selects a brand based on this knowledge to finally, use the product or service and create post-purchase experiences that will shape future interactions with the brand.

Later, an analysis of each media and its impact on the effectiveness of the communication is discussed:

  • Traditional media: It is still relevant even today. It is mentioned that the message communicates is more important than repetition. Nevertheless, advertising effects vary on the channel used.
  • Newer online media includes:
    • Search ads: users who search for specific and less popular keywords are said to be closer to a purchase decision. Allowing paid search ads to potentially increase click-through rate and conversion rates
    • Display ads: This type of advertisement can increase visitation to business-websites for most users in the purchase funnel. Nevertheless, this has considerable less impact on potential customers who already visited the website but failed to engage.
    • Websites: This channel can be more effective when it matches its potential customer’s intellectual style. Additionally, age, gender and geographical location segmentation can also affect success.
    • E-mail: Increases purchases three more times than social media and personalization of said emails is shown to improve its effectiveness.
    • o Social Media: Brand-generated content can positively affect valence, receptivity and customer susceptibility. Nevertheless, social media must not focus on a single platform as this can lead to misleading brand sentiments.
    • Mobile: Users in this media tend to go directly to a brand’s website or app. Users also make more purchases driven by impulse than product features. Additionally, coupons and ads have shown to be the most effective when personalized to the user’s taste, location and time of the day.


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