Integrating Marketing Communications: New Findings, New Lessons, and New Ideas

Rajeev Batra & Kevin Lane Keller
Article Snapshot
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Key Takeaways

​Different communication options have different strengths and weaknesses and generate different types of effects on consumers. "Mixing and matching" communication options can help maximize their main and interaction effects so that their whole is greater than the sum of their parts.

Digital communication options offer several robust effects, influencing consumers both directly and indirectly and allowing marketers to target specific outcomes with greater precision.

The consumer decision journey is significantly different than it was in the past, requiring much more carefully designed and implemented integrated marketing communications programs to ensure maximal results, with the deployment of stage-appropriate media and messages in optimal sequence.

​​Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the AMA/MSI Special Issue of Journal of Marketing​​​​​

This article provides a conceptual framework and models to help marketers and academics better understand integrated marketing communication (IMC) programs in the context of today’s new media environment, so that they can design and implement more effective and efficient IMC programs.



With the challenges presented by new media, shifting media patterns, and divided consumer attention, the optimal integration of marketing communications takes on increasing importance. We offer insights and advice as to how traditional and new media (e.g., search, display, mobile, television, social media) interact to affect consumer decision making. With an enhanced understanding of the consumer decision journey and how consumers process communications, we outline a comprehensive framework to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IMCs.


The ever-present challenge of creating IMCs is even more difficult in today’s business world and calls for new tools and new theories. We argue that this integration challenge can be met more easily through the use of a conceptual framework that analytically considers consumers’ most pressing “brand-related information needs” at different points in their decision journeys and then matches the particular media and messages that are strongest in their ability to meet each of those different specific needs.


  • Toward the goal of crafting a well-integrated marketing communications plan, we suggest that marketers should employ a set of two communication models as part of a comprehensive IMC framework:

  • A “bottom-up” communications matching model that identifies the communication options with the greatest ability to satisfy consumers’ brand-related information needs at different stages of the consumer decision journey.

  • A “top-down” communications optimization model that helps marketers evaluate the overall design or make-up of an IMC program.


“Integrating Marketing Communications: New Findings, New Lessons, and New Ideas,” by Rajeev Batra & Kevin Lane Keller​


For every communication option under consideration or currently being used, marketers must assess the following:

  • What is the direct (“main” or independent) effect of the communication on consumers? What does it make consumers think, feel, and do?

  • What does the communication uniquely contribute that complements other communications? 

  • In what ways, if at all, does the communication interact with other communications and enhance their effects? How does the communication improve the ability of other communications to affect consumer knowledge and behavior?

Questions for the Classroom

  1. How does the consumer today use information from various sources to decide what brand to buy?

  2. Do the information needs they have differ at various stages of their decision-making process?

  3. If yes to (2), what types of media are most appropriate and effective at these different stages?

Article Citation

Rajeev Batra and Kevin Lane Keller (2016), “Integrating Marketing Communications: New Findings, New Lessons, and New Ideas,” Journal of Marketing, 80 (6), 122-145.

Rajeev Batra is S.S. Kresge Professor of Marketing, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan (e-mail:

Kevin Lane Keller is E.B. Osborn Professor of Marketing, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College (e-mail:

The AMA / MSI Special Issue of Journal of Marketing
Volume 80, Issue 6, November 2016

V. Kumar, Kevin Lane Keller, & Katherine N. Lemon

Christine Moorman and George S. Day

V. Kumar and Werner Reinartz

Katherine N. Lemon and Peter C. Verhoef

Michel Wedel and P.K. Kannan

Rajeev Batra and Kevin Lane Keller

Cait Lamberton and Andrew T. Stephen

Dominique M. Hanssens and Koen H. Pauwels​

Author Bio:

Rajeev Batra & Kevin Lane Keller
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