Understanding & re-framing Integrated Channel Planning
By Jim Taylor, G2
Let’s begin with an important question: What actually is Integrated Channel Planning? Well I think what most people in our industry mean by this term, is not so much Communications Planning (which is message merged with media, through-the-line) but rather, what are the right Communication Channels to use (the media side) through-the-line. Is this a noble objective? Is this useful? My view is, yes and no. On it’s own, a dry and somewhat technical view of when and where to reach a consumer and shopper target, through-the-line, should not define a Communication Plan. It should be one of several inputs, alongside the idea, the objectives, tasks, category trends etc.
And in any case, there is no such thing as ‘the right connection point or touch-points to use’.
It’s a myth. Driving most effect will come out of how an idea interplays with touch-points, and indeed, the way the touch-points are used. A connection point or touch-point can be used in multiple ways. How is the operative word.
So it should be seen for what it is. It is valuable insight, but it is not planning. And ‘Integrated Channel Planning’ should be renamed and reframed as ‘Connection Point Insight’. How do we get at Connection Point Insight?
Let’s discuss how Communication Planners might use this insight, a little later on in the article.
For now, I’d like to look at how we get at ‘Connection Point Insight’ in the first place.
Fragmentation, ad avoidance, filtering and decoding of brand messages … the implication of all of this is that the yawning chasm of ‘opportunity-to-see (OTS)’ versus ‘actually saw, read, absorbed and cared’ becomes wider and wider every day. Reach and frequency figures might give us some indication of weight of potential exposure, but let's not kid ourselves that these figures are real exposure. As an industry, we need to give far more credence to understanding receptivity. We need to understand the ‘windows’ or ‘apertures’ or ‘points of influence’ when a consumer is most open to a category or brand; or and most easily switched or retained within this category; or when they are thinking about tangential things linked to category growth, that we might tap into.
This is the nub of ‘Connection Point Insight’. Truly understanding the context when and where we can most influence and affect the consumer in the category, through the line, across consumer, shopper, and influencer dimensions.
As we go forwards, this will become increasingly important. The internet will be all around us. Mobile broadband will mean we are always connected to the web. The idea of ‘being offline’ or ‘being online’ will not make sense. It will be an extension of ourselves. And context will be the key dimension, not communication channel
So given the pace of technological change going on around us, by now this connection point insight, should be a core form of insight used in all ‘go-to-market planning’ (media planning, CRM planning, shopper planning, communications planning) all the time. It should be a matter of course. But it isn’t, and that’s because it is pretty hard to get at, in a scaleable and replicable way.
One approach or tool that has been used over the last ten years, is Market Contact Audit (or MCA©) which is owned by Integration. MCA© seeks to understand - based on consumer research - what the most influential connection points are in a category, and then it looks at how much each brand in the category is associated with these connection points.
In my view, Integration have designed MCA so it is scaleable, and replicable, and such that is does look at connection points through-the-line. Which is great. But I do feel there is a limit to how much a consumer can really tell you about how much certain connection points or touch points influence them, when asked directly about them…… This article was first published in AdMap, 8th April 2011
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About the author
As G2’s Executive Director of Communications Planning, Jim Taylor is responsible for driving G2’s communications planning offer across key clients and the G2 international network, pioneering the development of the agency’s proprietary planning process.
One of the world’s leading authorities on communications planning, he has worked in both the UK and South Africa, in a number of senior planning roles, for Ogilvy & Mather, Carat, McCann Erickson, and Mediaedge:cia, advising brands such as SAB Miller, Kimberly Clark, Visa, and Heineken.
An acclaimed author, Taylor has also published two books: Space Race
and, more recently, Rigorous Magic
– both on the topic of brand communications.
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