Making In-House Agencies Work For Your Brand

In recent years major brands from Disney to American Express and beyond have taken all or part of their media and creative teams in-house.  In fact, recent research by the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) shows that as much as 72% of corporations now have in-house agency operations. 

Of course, in-housing tasks traditionally performed by agencies is not a new thing.  Already in 2008 when the Association of National Advertisers conducted its first survey on US in-house agencies, 42% of marketers reported they now had in-house agencies.  There are many reasons for this trend both on the creative and media side of the agency coin, but the fundamental driver has been the growth in digital ad spend and the incumbent need to speed up the creative and media process and create efficiencies.

Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said,  “As digital media became dominant, we faced the inconvenient truth that we were operating in a murky, nontransparent and sometimes even fraudulent media supply chain,” which led many brands to conclude that they needed to establish greater control over their advertising operations driving the in-housing movement.

What was a competitive advantage 10 years ago, however, has today become a core function of many major brands.  In today’s competitive environment, marketing is evolving faster than ever before and proximity to the customers it engages has become mission critical for most consumer facing brands.  In fact, the Direct To Consumer industry which has risen in the past decade essentially capitalized on its the agility of online businesses to iterate rapidly in a digital media environment and sell directly via online channels through performance marketing tactics.  These were the first brands deliberately constructed around their internal marketing teams with creative and media working hand in hand to drive increasing levels of Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).

The trend is undeniable, but also begs the question, “Is it time for you to take things in-house too?

Here are three reasons we think all brands should consider in-housing the digital marketing teams.

You can increase transparency.

Transparency was one of the main ideas at the advent of the in-house marketing movement. The new era of in-house advertising puts an end to the murky client-agency relationship, where advertising costs were questionable and inefficient. By bringing media buying in-house it’s possible to make significant savings. Most in-house marketers believe that in-housing improves agency transparency by providing greater oversight and control.

You can become more agile.

One of the biggest advantages of having an in-house team is agility.  The lengthy approval times for creative concepts, core asset development, media planning, creative iteration and media activation make the traditional Brand/Agency model slow and cumbersome.  This is fine in the world of TV or print media but when media trends can shift quickly in an omnichannel environment speed and agility are paramount.   Often agencies react to changes in market conditions with unnecessary.  Bringing all or part of the agency function in-house allows operational marketers to be both closer to the business and can improve communication between creative, media and stakeholders in the broader organization. 

This improved efficiency and silo-busting allows for much more reactive digital marketing executions.

You can make better use of first party data.

Data sharing is always a bottleneck for brands both in terms of time and campaign effectiveness.  Spotify is a classic example of a brand that has really understood the power of first party data to drive both creative and media.  Many of Spotify’s most successful ad campaigns are built around using their vast amounts of user data to tell interesting stories about how consumers engage with the brand.  From personalized “your year in music” playlists to sharing fun music trivia from fans they have been able to build strong brand equity.  Having the creative team in house and just a conversation away from the data analytics team no doubt helped them to efficiently package a very compelling story based on their first party data.  This type of unique execution would certainly be much more difficult in a firewalled relationship between the brand and agency.

Why not reduce your costs and increase your ROI?

Of course all this efficiency and time savings is in ther service of the bottom line.  In-housing makes financial sense because on top of removing agency margins from the cost of marketing it saves time and resources which can be better invested in the media and learning. . For CMO of Getty Images, Gene Foca, cost-saving wasn’t the ultimate aim, but a happy result of in-housing capabilities. And for Simon Buglione, Managing director of Brand and Creative at Sky, the marketing team is ‘working more effectively than ever before and at a lower overall cost to the business’.

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If you’re an in-house agency or considering going in house, Viewst has built the first collaborative workspace to automate and streamline collaboration between creative and media teams. Viewst centralizes your display assets, automates creative iteration in minutes, gives creative teams real-time insights on which designs perform best and makes cross department approvals quick and painless.  Check us out at www.viewst.com