Pooling media and direct is a good integrated solution

If creative agencies generally think that media planning and buying is a deathly dull, process-driven business (and they do...and sometimes it is), then direct marketing is an even lower communications life form, writes Claire Beale.

Despite all the best efforts of the IPA to foster greater understanding between its different constituents, there remains a disrespect and fug of incomprehension among the various disciplines.

So it's always interesting to see an agency (media or creative) claim to offer an integrated service. Such claims are often founded on the existence of one or two people with anomalous job titles who are neither the best of their breed nor embraced throughout the agency.

The notion that most agencies are in any meaningful way able to offer advice on, say, product sampling, PR or event marketing is absurd. And at a group level, integration between sister companies is pretty tricky to pull off when the heads of the respective divisions barely know each other's names. Yet more clients are looking for a strong communications partner to navigate through the quagmire of options.

But there are natural partnerships to be forged and Mediaedge:cia and Wunderman have this week announced one answer to the integrated question. The idea is to harness Mediaedge:cia's media expertise to Wunderman's data planning and analysis resources.

The official press release about the alliance rapidly descends into impenetrable gobbledegook. How's this for a sentence with a punch: "The most cost-efficient customer acquisition strategies through market-leading response analysis tools and best-in-class direct response media buying strategies built on Mediaedge:cia's proprietary ResponseEdge Direct platform."

But hidden beneath this crust of blather is a really interesting proposition. The marrying of media, direct, digital and data-based marketing offers an interesting twist on the dreaded media-neutral thing. The new collaboration claims it will deliver greater precision in the targeting, execution and measurement of campaigns. Customer data will be used to identify the most valuable consumers, while the combination of planning resource will optimise media selection for these consumers.

The alliance has more than simply a ring of fashionability about it. In the absence of top-flight media credentials, Mediaedge's positioning was one of thoughtful channel planning and empathy with other disciplines. CIA, too, preached 360-degree communications well before the concept became grubbily dog-eared. So it's in the DNA of the media brand. For Wunderman, this is a move up the food chain, a chance to layer greater creative thinking on its impressive data expertise.

Harnessing the two skill-sets in a clear and structured approach is a major leap beyond the self-serving integrated tokenism found elsewhere.

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