The study starts from the premise that the specific characteristics of the internet transform the application of IMC principles from an alternative option to an absolute requirement
Integrated marketing communication – the evolution of a concept The IMC approach has received almost instant recognition at the end of the 1990s, as a result of the existing trends to reduce the budget allocated to mass advertising campaigns and to concentrate on segmented or personalised communication with final consumers. The increased fragmentation of media and customers, as well as the revolution introduced in mass communication by the new communication channels – internet and mobile communication technologies – has created the need for a new approach to marketing communication, that can insure centralised management and a consistency of corporate messages sent towards various audiences.
The concept of IMC was defined in many different, often contradictory, ways: Pickton and Broderick (2001) claim that synergy is the principal benefit of bringing together the various facets of marketing communications in a mutually supportive way.
Definition proposed by Keegan et al. (1992, p. 631): Integrated marketing communications is the strategic co-ordination of all messages and media used by an organisation to collectively influence its perceived brand value. At the heart of this definition is the assumption that the credibility and value of both the company and its brand(s) will increase, when messages transmitted to various audiences become consistent across time and targets. Another definition proposed by Duncan (2002, p. 8) demonstrates the current conceptual perception of IMC: A cross-functional process for creating and nourishing profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders by strategically controlling or influencing all messages sent to these groups and encouraging data-driven, purposeful dialogue with them.
The notion of stakeholders implies the shift in the IMC concept from customer target audiences to the inclusion of key stakeholder groups such as employees, investors, suppliers, distributors, media and the social community.
The most significant organisation barriers for the implementation of the IMC concept: * lack of horizontal communication;
* functional specialisation;
* lack of IMC planning and expertise;
* lack of budget;
* lack of database technology;
* corporate culture; and
* fear of change.
The impact of the internet technology on marketing communication: The rapid development of the internet in the last ten years has changed the classical communication procedures (Blattberg and Deighton, 1991; Holtz, 1999), because of three specific and co-existent characteristics that differentiate it from any other communication channel: * Interactivity. The internet offers multiple possibilities of interactive communication, acting not only as an interface, but also as a communication agent (allowing a direct interaction between individuals and software applications). The traditional communication channel was uni-directional, Even when communication was considered a two-way process, the institutions had the resources to send information to audiences through a very wide pipeline, while the audiences had only a minuscule pipeline for communicating back. Now, the communication channel is a network, not a pipeline. Communicators have grasped and even embraced this new proximity, fact demonstrated by the vast number of web sites which display “Contact Us” buttons and links. However, in most of the cases, these new facilities are not fully used. * Transparency. The information published online can be accessed and viewed by any internet user, unless this information is specifically protected. * Memory. The web is a channel not only for transmitting information, but also for storing information – in other words, information published on...