Digital IMConsolidated

In South Africa ad spend has moved online at an nerve-wrackingly slow pace and, despite the professed mandate of marketing executives to “get into something new” with their ad budgets, the tsunami of online ad spend just never arrived. It continues to edge nervously towards the digital realm.

Might not be such a bad thing. Banner and button ads, including those horrible Flash popovers and gimmicks, are a very poor bang for buck. Likewise Google Adwords. With fractions of a percent clicking through, and numerous studies demonstrating how efficiently netizens overlook online ads, companies are getting fleeced by so-called “specialist digital agencies”.

It appears that social media will be an easier sell for ad agencies. So now money that went into building overly elaborate and suitably ego-sized web sites will be diverted (at least partly) into guerilla social media campaigns, self-consciously hip digital branding campaigns and the like.

Hooray, the ad agencies and marketing directors can get right back into their comfort zones and go right on doing what they always wanted to do… and that’s IMC, the Integrated Marketing and Communications stuff that they milked for the last three decades.

I, for one, welcome the return to these kinds of core strategies because that is what digital marketing needs most desperately: the reconstitution of a marketing practice that got slowly torn apart by companies trying to ride each new Internet fad, which consistently delivered half-assed results. Good thing, then, that it only cost a fraction of a single TV spot.

So I welcome the re-emergence of old-school integrated marketing and communications strategies. I believe that this may finally unlock the true potential of digital marketing where the company’s Facebook, Twitter and video blog endeavours make it more accessible and accountable to it’s customers, which should drive traffic to it’s now much-improved user-centric web site, which should be populated with genuinely useful information and even some spicy opinion blogging, and offer links to it’s newsletter which it should cleverly use for market research, which its high-level people should openly discuss on unmoderated public networks etc.

The return of the IMC. One ring fence to rule them all. Shock! Horror! Turns out everything new in Internet marketing is not better. Or new. And maybe the revolution of corporate marketing will not be televised. Will not be televised.

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