Discovering themes in Integrated Marketing Communication research

Articles that are taking stock can be an interesting read and very helpful for researchers. IMC, or Integrated Marketing Communication is a concept that appears to have been a little sidelined recently, though it is probably more important than ever to integrate messages in a multi-channel environment – and in different settings.

What does the article examine?
The article examines themes in Integrated Marketing Communication that have been published over the time from 1991 to 2012.
Which concepts are discussed in the article?
The article is not based on any theoretical framework linked to marketing per se, but offers both a commentary on topics which are related to the field of Integrated Marketing Communications as well as a potential methodology for performing literature reviews and visualising the results – enabling the reader to see more clearly which topics have been covered, which areas are of interest for future research etc.
Where is the data from and what methodology is being used?
The data is taken from scientific databases. The main tool for analysis used is NodeXL, a network analysis tool which integrates with Excel and runs on Windows (sadly it seems not to run with Excel for Mac!).
What are the main outcomes?
The main outcomes are the visualisation of how a particular topic area is connected with other areas around it (IMC is related to Marketing for example).  With further analysis, the authors also show how certain themes have been extremely important (e.g. Communication in general) – and how themes have evolved over time. They show how targeting, stakeholder and Information Communication Technology are recent – and still relatively sparsely cited. On the other hand, promotions mix is recent and a hot topic, while articles dealing with the paradigm of IMC and advertising and IMC are becoming less important.
What are the implications and why should you read it?
This is an articles which is really interesting to read as a researcher, i.e. I found the methodology more interesting than the results to be honest. Thus, it maybe particularly useful if you want to conduct a literature review (and maybe struggle currently with just pages and pages of article descriptions) – or want to have a comprehensive look at a topic area. If you are interested in IMC development, it would also be interesting of course, or indeed to know which areas have been covered – and which haven’t been (e.g. IMC and Social Marketing hadn’t been covered in the data set). In that sense, the methodology (or if you are an IMC researcher the article itself) can give you some insights into what could be a hot topic of the future, however, it needs to be remembered, that the body of the analysis is likely to be itself around a year or more “lagging behind” current work being done (and not yet published).

Full Reference: Muñoz-Leiva, F., Porcu, L., & Barrio-García, S. Del. (2015). Discovering prominent themes in integrated marketing communication research from 1991 to 2012: a co-word analytic approach. International Journal of Advertising, (October), 1–24.

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