Wait, Wait — Don’t Tell Me! Talk to Me About Anything but Integrated Marketing

Wait, Wait — Don’t Tell Me! Talk to Me About Anything but Integrated Marketing
April 3, 2014 PRSADesigner

Last weekend, I was out with some friends and, as is often the case in Boston, we ran into some people we sorta knew. Soon our groups merged around a table. After a few minutes, the inevitable happened; I was asked what I do and replied: “I work at an integrated marketing agency.”

Eyes blinked blankly, someone far off exhaled a charitable, “Nice.” And, of course, I then rambled into an explanation of my job, but already I had lost them. They were on to inspecting the beer list.

Which brings me to my question: What is so darn mystifying about integrated marketing?

And as something so many people find nebulous and vague, integrated marketing is gaining momentum, it is a key success factor; when it’s done well, it influences most of us. So let’s try to break this down, over time.


Here’s a chart I did not make, but thank Google Trends for. Using the tool, I pulled up web searches for interest in “integrated marketing.”[1] What I found was a little surprising. For what I would consider a buzzword(s), the term has actually lost its share of popular interest over the past 10 years. While I’m sure the number and frequency of people using Google has increased since 2005, the term has failed to hold its own ground.

Now, let’s compare the search term “integrated marketing” to its share of news-related searches over time:

Boom. There’s the buzz. Despite an overall decline in Google user’s “interest” in integrated marketing, the number of uses of the term in the news has increased sharply since 2012, with numbers from before 2009 at a literal flat-line.

So what does this tell us? Well, I think it means a number of things but one could be that marketers are the only people actually buzzing about integrated marketing, while our audiences continue to Google cat videos (myself included). We’ve done a good job of putting it out there, but a less than great job of, well, integrating it into the conversation at a bar, on Google, Twitter,  or elsewhere.

To better understand what the conversation actually is right now, I used Taxgedo and created the word cloud below. It’s a collection of all the top terms that come up when people search for “integrated marketing,” ranked by word size. Throwing away the search words themselves, you end up with top terms like: development, communications, application, innovation, solutions, strategies, brand, unified, consistent, and social.

This tool offers a good snapshot of the ways and means of integrated marketing, as well as its results. But what it doesn’t do is make sense of these things. It’s a giant, knotted ball. It’s integrated. It’s the blank stare and awkward-silence, illustrated.

The mish mosh of words that come up reminds us of the simple fact that it takes (at least) two to integrate. And, if this is the case (and I mean, it is) then let me hypothesize that the confusion comes from simply not knowing the ingredients of integration, which therefore makes it harder to imagine the results and payoffs (read: return on investment).

In this series, I’ll tackle these questions to not only get us closer to answers, but also to solutions. I’ll conduct interviews, read your comments, and probably find some more charts, graphs, and clouds along the way. I hope you’ll join me.

[1]To be clear, the numbers on the graph represent how many searches have been made for the term in relation to total number of searches. A downward sloping line means that the term’s overall cut of the search pie is smaller, not necessarily that it was Googled less. For more, visit https://support.google.com/trends/answer/4355164?hl=en

Post Author


Catherine Ahearn works at HB Agency on the PR and creative sides of the house. Catherine’s interest in PR originates from her desire to combine critical analysis and creative thinking. She enjoys observing the ever-changing connection between message and medium; what we understand and how it is communicated.

Catherine is also a Ph.D. candidate in editorial studies at Boston University, where she is completing a dissertation on 20thcentury Irish print media.



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