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One of the more widely used collateral service organizations is the marketing research firm. Companies are increasingly turning to marketing research to help them understand their target audiences and to gather information that will be of value in designing and evaluating their advertising and promotions programs. Even companies with their own marketing research departments often hire outside research agencies to perform some services. Marketing research companies offer specialized services and can gather objective information that is valuable to the advertiser's promotional programs. They conduct qualitative research such as in-depth interviews and focus groups, as well as quantitative studies such as market surveys.

Iptggrated Ma rketinff You have seen that marketers can choose from a variety of specialized organizations to assist them in planning, devel-

C O m m UnicationS Services oping, and implementing an integrated marketing communications program. But companies must decide whether to use a different organization for each marketing communications function or consolidate them with a large advertising agency that offers all of these services under one roof.

As noted in Chapter 1, during the 1980s many of the large agencies realized that their clients were shifting their promotional dollars away from traditional advertising to other forms of promotion and began developing IMC capabilities. Some did this through mergers and acquisitions and became superagencies consisting of advertising, public relations, sales promotion, and direct-response agencies.

Many large agencies are continuing to expand their IMC capabilities by acquiring specialists in various fields. All the major agency holding companies either own or have substantial investments in interactive and direct-response agencies as well as public relations firms. For example, Omnicom Group acquired Fleishman-Hillard Inc.; WPPGroup bought Hill & Knowlton; and Interpublic Group purchased Golin/Harris International. Nonadvertising business accounts for nearly half of Inter-public's revenue, and the company, along with its competitors, continues to acquire public relations firms, direct-marketing companies, interactive agencies, and other specialized marketing services firms.34

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