From Silos to Synergy: A Fifty-year Review of Cross-media Research Shows Synergy Has Yet toAchieve its Full Potential

Henry Assael

Stern School of Business, New York University


Cross-media research has received increasing attention in recent years. The Web and mobile technologies have driven an explosion of media alternatives, giving impetus to a cross-media perspective. Cross-media research is nothing new, but its emphasis has changed from silos to synergy.

Before Internet advertising became such an important part of the marketing mix, media research tended to follow a “silo” approach (i.e., a focus on individual media). Most research was devoted to measuring the effectiveness of television. Audience-measurement issues regarding the validity and reliability of reach and frequency dominated. Based on a content analysis of the Journal of Advertising Research from inception to the early 1990s, it is estimated that research devoted to television outnumbered research on all other media by at least a five-to-one ratio. When analyses took place across media, generally the objective was to create unduplicated audiences to maximize reach on the most cost-efficient basis.