You’ve spent the last five years trying to do ‘integrated’ work, in other words, your TV ad, your press ad and your website all look the same. You’re very proud because you’ve just about mastered integration. Well, here’s the bad news: you missed the point. Integration is less about things looking the same and more about a consistent brand behaviour, specially on the digital arena.

This chapter will address some simple conventions to help you make the most of opportunities on the interactive space.

Before we go into the DO’s and DON’Ts of digital integration, here are three starting points on the generic definition of integration, please read the one most likely to be you:

1. You’re new to advertising: integration within an advertising campaign is normally recommended if you want to sell a brand’s products and services across different channels (TV, print, radio and digital) with a campaign thought that takes into consideration each channel’s characteristics.

2. You already work in an agency: you probably know the drill. Just be aware that ideas can sometimes start quite small in different channels and then going mass. More of this later.

3. You’re a client: some of you are getting it right and some of you are getting it wrong. So if you still think integration is your press ad put into a banner please go back to point one and start again. And for those of you who still think an idea must come from a TV or press agency, again, you need to get out more.

Good digital integration is making the most of every digital behaviour independent of what country or culture the work is going to be shown in. When I say ‘digital’ I mean everything from mobile to an interactive digital display. What’s on a billboard stays on the billboard, but what’s on the web can be viewed on a mobile device and vice-versa. And no, putting an URL in a billboard is not true integration.

From an agency, client or more importantly, from a consumer’s perspective, digital integration is becoming increasingly important, so much so it should no longer be considered a niche area in the marketing mix.


1. Don’t do matching luggage – adapt an idea to a channel. Visuals around the same idea can change and a digital ad does not to have to look similar to the other campaign advertising. Sadly, or should I say fortunately, there’s no one creative solution that fits all.

2. Don’t blindly trust focus groups – or at least not in the way you are used to. In old marketing most notions of what the consumer liked in a product were second guessed. Now it doesn’t need to be, it’s easier to ask them straight. Why not test a series of campaign ideas online before they get ‘made’ into final executions? It can be done. The other key point is that research might throw something great for TV that might not be relevant for online. And even within online a campaign could vary depending on the consumer’s mindset, for example, the mindset when they are logged in to a bank site is totally different than when they are surfing for fun.

3. Don’t always go for mass reach – try lots of small clusters. Again the holy grail always used to be mass approach, a TV ad that everyone saw and then a site that everyone knew. But take a look at social networking. If you just go there shouting about your product (no matter how nicely you do it) people won’t listen to you. You need to tap into people’s individual behaviour. For example, can you tap into the fact most people upload pictures of a night out or thank each other for being added to a group of friends? This will take time but will be worth it in the long run.


1. Take risks and love being in beta. Don’t sink all your money into one website that you think will solve everything. Experiment a little, try lots of different types of behaviour within the digital context. Sounds like common sense but not many people do it. Try something within mobile for example. How about a mobile application for a makeup brand that recommended shades based on complexion and clothing. It has been done. This does not necessarily need to be part of a website just a neat little utility that works well when you have your phone rather than your computer with you.

2. Write briefs for specific digital engagements. It’s no longer simply good enough to have a generic digital brief. Identifying a great problem is as good as solving the problem itself. What’s right for a website that is targeting millions of people might not be right for an app on a social networking platform. People think differently at different times of the day and depending on what platforms they are using.

3. And most importantly: don’t be afraid to start small. There can be big opportunities in small ideas that start out in any of the marketing channels but specifically now within the digital space. You never know where a successful idea might start to come alive, so all the more reason to sprinkle the landscape with lots of them.

So does this ‘start small’ thing mean the end of the big idea? No. Making the most of every channel and making the most of every little opportunity within the digital channel only adds to the mix, and perhaps in a more cost effective way. Digital is a great place to start small as it’s not only easier to test ideas but also often cheaper. A great idea on Twitter, followed up by a series of small partnerships, plus a Flickr group can be as effective as buying online ads. Just don’t think banners and microsites. Truly understand all the small digital opportunities and how to tap into them and you might end up with something big.

Editor’s Note:

This represents a revisited version of the essay in Digital Advertising: Past, Present and Future

Also you may be interested in Ale’s follow up post on the subject.

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