LONDON: The digital revolution and the rise of web conversations will result in "the death of 'the line'", a white paper commissioned by the Royal Mail has claimed.

According to the report, authored by marketing expert Martin Hayward with academic Patrick Barwise of London Business School, distinctions between above-the-line and below-the-line channels will blur until the divide becomes redundant.

Marketing strategies will become far more integrated, and agencies and clients alike will be able to measure effectiveness better than ever before.

With more and more consumers finding ways of talking about brands with each other online, there could also be a general rejection of traditional "top-down" advertising.

Hayward said: "The current 'push' model of marketing is becoming ever more obsolete as consumers have become more used to control over the media they choose to consume.

"Technology has empowered the individual and they are no longer forced to endure irrelevant communications."

The new marketing landscape has put pressure on budgets, particularly for traditional media.

A survey contained in the report, conducted with the assistance of the Marketing Society, shows that four in five marketing and media directors have lowered the proportion of their budgets allocated to TV over the last five years.

But online spend has proportionally increased for two-thirds of those polled.

When asked what will happen over the next five years, 80% apiece predicted a further decline in TV and a further increase for online.

Overall, 40% said marketing budgets will shrink over the next decade, as ad dollars shift to more "efficient", precisely-targeted online communications. Just over one in ten said budgets will increase.

As a pointer to how future marketing research will be conducted, the report pointed out that both the "speed and granularity" of consumer data has "overtaken" researchers' ability to collect, refine and respond to it.

The report added: "Getting the right message to the right person will cease to be a significant challenge as customer and consumer data becomes more freely available."

Meanwhile, 100% of respondents agreed with the statement "marketing communications will be a more efficient and accountable discipline in the future".

Barwise added: "Because the UK is the most advanced major market in the world in the use of digital marketing, we'll probably be the first to find the new balance between push and pull/response marketing, where the internet dominates the latter but not the former."

Data sourced from Royal Mail; additional content by Warc staff