BRUSSELS: Over three-quarters of advertisers regard integrated marketing communications as a priority, but many are failing to generate big ideas and fully measure performance, new research has shown.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), a trade body, gathered responses from a third of its membership, representing eight categories and a combined annual marketing budget of around $32bn. 

Overall, 80% of this panel agreed that integrated marketing communications (IMC) was a "top priority".

The four areas showing the greatest gap between companies' capabilities and priorities were all related to people and performance.

Under the latter heading, the study found it was vital for marketers to understand what success looked like and to set the right key performance indicators. Single-brand companies and those with an annual global adspend of less than $500m were more likely to face these challenges.

Another performance-related issue was demonstrating return on investment, and it was the largest companies, those spending more than $2bn annually, that had most to do here.

People-based challenges centred on securing buy-in for IMC from business leaders, and ensuring proper resources were in place. The largest firms needed to address both these areas, while the food and drinks industry was also found to be lagging on leadership.

Generally, the smaller companies, spending up to $500m a year on marketing, had most work to do in preparing themselves for IMC, while medium-sized companies, spending between $500m and $2bn a year, were most ready.

"Within many large companies there are often still IMC sceptics," said Geoff Seeley, global communications planning director at Unilever, and chair of the WFA's IMC forum.

He argued businesses that were members of the forum should act as advocates. "To be able to benchmark your own company against a pool of other large multinationals can be invaluable to help inform smarter conversations internally and help realise real progress," he stated.

Data sourced from WFA: additional content by Warc staff