Do Customers Want Integrated Media?

Blog Post
July 11, 2017

Marketers occasionally need a reminder that they can lose sight of their true mission, which is to discover and deliver what customers really want.1  When marketers enthusiastically tee up the objective to integrate online and offline marketing, it is easy to get side-tracked:  Where is the “customer” in “media integration”?

One might think a simple rewording of the question solves the problem: “Can we do a better job of meeting customer needs by integrating our online and offline marketing?”  While a step in the right direction, it still risks being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  This question is only safe if we have a comprehensive picture of customer needs, or what jobs they want done during the buyer’s journey.

Let’s take a classic integrated media success:  Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.”  It was rooted in a 2003 research finding that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful.2  This finding was essentially interpreted as an indication that the overarching purpose of Dove products could be to help women think of themselves as more beautiful.




From a “Monday morning quarterback” perspective, the Dove team thought creatively about the jobs to be done during the buyer’s journey.  Their hypothesis was that they could help women strengthen self-assessments of beauty by encouraging them to declare that other women were beautiful even if they were not supermodels. 

One of the first tests of the hypothesis involved a print and billboard “tick box” campaign in Canada.  Women of various races, ages and shapes were pictured next to questions like “Fat or fit?” or “Gray or gorgeous?” or “Withered or wonderful?”  Survey responses were gathered on the campaign website and posted real-time on the web and billboards.  

Think about the outdoor-plus-web portion of the campaign from a customer journey perspective:  I read the billboard while driving my car.  I am moved by the message.  I remember the brand.  I reach my destination and pull out my smartphone.  I find the right website and voting page.  I enter my vote.  I read some of the comments.  I decide whether to like or respond or enter my own comments.  And so on.  That is a lot of work, and the sequence could be disrupted at any point along the way.  Shockingly, over one million people navigated the steps and responded to the first wave of this campaign as it spread to the US and the UK. 

The integration of print, billboard and web was profoundly powerful in the Dove campaign.  Billboard and print created awareness about a new type of buyer’s journey and enticed readers to respond.  The print and billboard ads reinforced each other and moved people to find the website.  There the message was reinforced and the visitor could easily take a stand and cast their vote.  Votes were immediately recorded and tallied.  The three channels synergistically initiated, reinforced and supported the journey.  Ultimately, they gave people, especially women, a voice on an issue of great importance to them. 

Dove went on to integrate a fourth channel—video—into the campaign.  Multiple clips were posted on their YouTube channel and some went viral, generating 10’s of millions of views.  The customer became a channel.  Women’s deep connection to the videos’ messages on true beauty were so genuine and strong that the sales response functions of all media for the whole brand improved significantly.  Since the print and billboard launch in 2004, Dove’s revenue grew from $2.5 billion to $4 billion in 2014.3  Not too bad.

The moral of the Dove story is to let the customer’s journey drive your thinking about media integration.  The primary objective isn’t media integration, it’s helping customers achieve the outcomes they seek during their journeys. 

QR Codes

A classic tool for media integration is the QR code.  It can facilitate a quick transition from print to the web.  But QR codes are less familiar to smartphone users than other tools such as app downloading or “like” buttons.  If we succumb to marketing myopia, we immediately jump to the conclusion that we should help consumers become more familiar and comfortable with using QR codes.  But this assumes we would be helping customers address a problem they want to solve. 

If we keep the customer foremost in our thinking, we can examine the steps in the buyer’s journey and think creatively about how our marketing tools, including media and its integration, can help buyers achieve the outcomes they seek.  If we have a “geek for details” persona and know they often read a particular print magazine, then a QR code on a print ad may not only help them complete their research on a website (e.g., conduct a careful analysis by closely examining product features and comparison details), it may be an irritant if you do not provide the QR code. 

On the other hand, if you have a “high-touch glamour” persona, then a QR code may be ill-advised.  They probably have no clue how to scan a QR code, and might even resent you for evoking a sense of technical inadequacy by placing it on the ad.  For this persona, the wisest approach may be to avoid print and digital media integration altogether. 

Variable Printing

Variable printing can be a highly powerful tool for integrating recent buyer behavior across digital and non-digital channels with direct mail.  But, you can’t simply use the demographics associated with a customer’s mailing address to create a modern variable print strategy.  Just because someone lives in a high-income zip code does not mean you know their persona or a likely buyer’s journey. 

Research shows that consumers greatly prefer personalized advertising.4  But matching direct mail pieces to zip codes is not what they are talking about.  They want a clear indication that you are listening to them.  This means observing their behavior and expressed preferences across all channels they have recently used, quickly interpreting this information accurately, using it to select content that interests them, and delivering it quickly.  Now that’s a tall order, but a feasible one.  We have the data; their expectation is that we use it wisely, both in the digital and print realms. 

Collaborative Process

The consumer expectation that we tailor our content requires coordination across many disciplines.  MarTech gathers information, integrates it across channels by customer, and facilitates analysis.  Research draws on the data to create personas.  Analytics uses the real-time data to devise working hypotheses of personas given recent and current buyer behaviors.  MarCom devises content strategies to align with the personas.  And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Today’s integrated marketing organization is constantly coping with “collaborative chaos.”  They strive daily for incremental wins in numerous ad hoc teams.  They nobly shoulder the ultimately impossible goal of facilitating the effort to help buyers succeed in their journeys.  It’s a stressful but thrilling ride. 


Click here to read an article entitled “Social Media Marketing: A Practitioner Guide” published on


1.  Amy Gallo, A Refresher on Marketing Myopia, Harvard Business Review, August 22, 2016. Includes insights from John Deighton, a professor at Harvard Business School and a member of the Marketing Advisory Board at Harte Hanks.

2.  Tanzina Vega, Ad About Women’s Self-Image Creates a Sensation, The New York Times, April 18, 2013.

3.  Jack Neff, Ten Years In, Dove's 'Real Beauty' Seems to Be Aging Well, Advertising Age, January 22, 2014.

4.  For example: Holly Pauzer, 71% of Consumers Prefer Personalized Ads, Adlucent, May 12, 2016.