The Elusive Integration

By Aaron Goldman, VP, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships

On Monday, I had the opportunity to participate in the Orion keynote panel at SES Chicago.

The topic was “The State of Integration” and, as moderator Kevin Ryan put it, the goal was to “cut through the BS” and get to what’s actually happening in terms of people coordinating search and other marketing channels. He even used the fun graphic I unearthed for my “Beware Integration for Integration’s Sake” post.

Fellow panelist, Robert Murray of iProspect, shared some data from a research study they conducted with Jupiter showing that 2/3 of searchers are driven to perform a query as a result of exposure to some offline channel. And nearly 40% of searchers make a purchase after being driven to search after such exposure. Unfortunately, though, only 55% of search marketers are integrating offline channels with search. And, of those, the main tactic most are using is simply including their URL in their offline ad.

As I’ve shown time and time again on my Good URL Bad URL blog, it takes more than an URL hastily thrown on a TV ad to create a fluid consumer brand experience. In these here pages, Jeff Campbell and I have outlined tangible integration strategies and benefits.

Unfortunately, there are many barriers to integrating search:

  • Structural silos within client, agency and media organizations -- a topic we discussed at the Search Insider Summit.
  • Misaligned incentives among client, agency, and media organizations with multiple P&L’s across brand product lines, agency media channel lines, and publisher media type lines -- eg, search and display are housed separately and performance is evaluated and bonused separately
  • Disparate data systems -- as I said at SIS, Data is King. Without a central data platform providing consistent and in-depth tracking across channels, all attempts at integration are solely front-end (eg, creative message) rather than back-end (eg, conversion attribution).

One thing the panel agreed on was that we can’t just wait around for silos to fall, incentives to be aligned and data systems to be integrated. We can (and must) start taking baby steps towards integration today. One of the easiest ways to do that is to leverage search data to inform larger marketing strategies. We’ve had a lot of success doing that at Resolution Media (and were recently awarded for doing it for our Gatorade client).

To that end, there are a proliferation of free and paid tools search marketers can use to draw out nuggets that will help build the business case for integration -- eg, Google Insights, Microsoft adCenter Labs and Ad Intelligence, Yahoo Buzz, comScore Marketer, AdGooroo, Hitwise, Compete, etc.

And, of course, there are campaign management and web analytics tools that can be mined for search insights that have broader implications and applications -- eg, DART Search, Omniture Search Center, Atlas Search, SearchIgnite, Kenshoo, Clickable, Marin Software, Omniture Site Catalyst, Google Analytics, Webtrends, ClickTracks, etc.

Finally, there are systems integration tools like Covario that allow you to see your search data alongside data from other channels (including front-end media channels and back-end CRM systems) all in one pretty dashboard.

For a glimpse at how search data can be used to set the stage for an integrated marketing strategy, take a look-see at this webcast I did with Eli Goodman from comScore a few months back.

However you go about integrating search, just go about it! The worst thing you can do is get paralyzed by all the barriers to integration and go back to your silo and put your blinders back on.


Copyright © 2008 Resolution Media, Inc. All rights reserved.