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Inside The Economist: Top 5 insights from integrated marketing

In our new series “Inside The Economist”, we’ll be speaking to various departments across the magazine to get their insights on the latest trends affecting their work. To start off the series, I spoke to Samantha Silberberg, integrated marketing manager, and Patrick McEntee, senior marketing manager, in The Economist Group’s integrated marketing department about the top trends they are currently seeing from major publishers and advertisers. (For those unfamiliar with the term, Bloomberg Businessweek published a very good analysis of integrated marketing by Steve McKee.)

Top 5 insights (in no particular order):

1) E-commerce
SS: Many publishers are in a state of limbo when it comes to adding an e-commerce component aspect to their websites. Newspapers like the New York Times and the Daily Mail are already testing the waters with this, but it remains to be seen whether other publications will adopt e-commerce or what effect this will have on revenue.
PM: E-commerce could be more effective if restricted to publications that already showcase products, such as fashion magazines, People, Good Housekeeping, and similar publications, and possibly luxury magazines. However, for most publications e-commerce will not be much of an opportunity because the returns will be low or because it’s not a natural fit for them.

2) Transparency/Opacity
SS: The Economist has been the first publication to release a global CMR, while the Forbes website has undergone a re-design that makes its social media sharing numbers more prominent. There is a demand for transparency from readers and advertisers, and publications are starting to respond.
PM: There is a lack of cohesiveness on the agency side in terms of creating a common language for digital advertising tools. Publishers and advertisers also want to move towards a holistic approach that is media agnostic, but agencies struggle with how to assess such an approach.

3) Metrics
SS: As always, metrics remain important. However, unlike print and online metrics, which are standardized, metrics for reporting on integrated campaigns are still underdeveloped. There are also questions about how we should even define metrics for integrated campaigns.
PM: Mobile and tablets are growing very quickly and replacing desktops as the preferred medium to connect to the internet. However, comScore, Nielsen and other research providers don’t measure the data for these mediums nor do they measure how ads are being served on these platforms. The tools for assessing the success of these campaigns are very limited.

4) Brands as publishers
SS: Advertisers are creating their own content in-house, and requesting it from media companies. So much of advertising today is about relinquishing control of brand image, but white-label content [content produced by media companies that advertisers rebrand to appear as their own] allows them to provide information that is valuable to readers while creating a positive brand image.
PM: The truth is that many advertisers lack the time, skills, expertise and resources to produce effective white-label content. There is also still distrust from audiences towards companies that are not already content providers offering content.

5) Interactivity:
SS: Advertisers are taking advantage of ad enhancement features available in digital editions and digital replicas that create a richer and more engaging experience with the ad. In particular, automotive advertisers are creating more interactive experiences that allow audiences to get a feel for how the car looks likes and works.

Are there any integrated marketing trends you’re noticing or insights you have?