Integration Won’t Be Enough

I’ve been considering the impact of algorithms, automation tools and contextual media on marketing as we know it. It’s becoming clear to me that integrated marketing won’t be enough to make a company, nonprofit or individual competitive in this coming era. Integrating marketing communications ina contextual era, while certainly better than a series of one off touches, would be the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

In its traditional form, integration implies all marketing pieces working together to deliver a uniform message. The key here is the uniformity of the message.

In a highly segmented contextual world where individuals are served highly customized content, only offering integrated communications will be robotic, plain and over massaged corporate speak. Most people turnoff bland communications unless they have a burning need for the offered product or service.

Uniformity of message will not help a brand ring through the noise. In fact, the notion of same message everywhere in every medium flies in the face of context.

Let’s use an example. In the Age of Context, Shel Israel and Robert Scoble talk about the incredible innovations occurring at Gillette Stadium with its mobile app and wifi network. Eventually contextual intelligence will be built into this system.

Right now the Gillette Stadium app is delivering the uniform information, the same info you can find online or in a brochure. So if I was on a vegetarian day and wanted to find non-meat, non-junk food eats at the stadium, I would have a hard time with the app. Instead, I would have to walk the stadium to find the food I want.

A competitive app THAT leveragES contextual data would already know that I enjoy vegetarian eats now and then. Without prompting, it would suggest the most friendly vegetarian food stands. The competing app would be more useful and would win my business. Gillette Stadium would lose the opportunity to sell me on other stadium events and stores.

You can see that integrated messaging is weak in comparison to an algorithm-driven contextual machine that builds layers of message and content complexity into its integration.

BUT…

Marketers struggle with the very basis of customer experience as it is. Hell, they still struggle with basic integration.

This new round of technologies will create even more difficulties. One of those problems will be unleashing contextual solutions without a balance of customer permission and a healthy sense of personal boundaries. People can and will become creeped out.

The contextual revolution offers a strong reminder that human strategy and intelligence needs to drive communications. Understanding human levers will supersede systems. Building the right parameters for intelligent content systems will take precedence over the basic blocking and tackling that an integrated program offers. So in the art of marketing generalship great weapons can win, but you need to know how to use them.

What do you think?