in-house marketing

Hmmm. It’s probably funny to you to read a blog post from an experiential marketing agency about in-housing. We know it’s a conversation worth having.

Over the past two years, we’ve been seeing more and more reports about brands bringing work from external agencies in-house.

One study by Forrester and the In-House Agency Forum reports advertisers with in-house agencies increased to 64% from 42% a decade ago.

According to AdWeek, another study by the ANA reported that 78 percent of member brands claim to have some form of in-house operations. This is compared to 58 percent in 2013 when the ANA last researched this topic and 42 percent in 2008.

Unilever, P&G, Jaguar Land Rover and Pernod Ricard are just a few of the larger brands who have brought some marketing in-house.

What’s causing this shift?

  • Programmatic media is partly driving this push to in-housing. Brand teams can now efficiently schedule and optimize campaigns on their own.
  • Concerns about transparency have arisen between many brands and agencies. In-housing eliminates the trust issues.
  • Some big ad agencies are pushing certain advertising formats, some for selfish reasons. Many brands want to talk about connecting with consumers in a variety of other ways. There is a greater need to design user experiences across multiple touchpoints as consumers, themselves, evolve.
  • In today’s age, brands realize the value of controlling their own customer relationships…and their own data.
  • It’s a cross-environment society, so it no longer makes sense to use multiple agencies that have their own silos (PR v. out-of-home v. creative v. strategy v. broadcast). Advertisers who centralize the brand knowledge can better leverage the power of integration across all channels.

In-house marketing allows internal teams to ensure continuity across media planning and the brand messaging.

In a survey of 149 marketers by the Association of National Advertisers, 35 percent said they had reduced the work they outsource to agencies. Unilever, in its annual report, said its in-house teams are creating content faster and around 30 percent cheaper than external agencies.

Other benefits of in-housing include:

  • More brand control and better use of brand knowledge
  • Reduced service fees and savings from multiple agency retainers
  • Quicker turnaround times

Let’s face it, though. Creating an in-house marketing agency is its own undertaking.

Before you say goodbye to your agencies, here are a few must-haves:

  • Talent with both strategic and execution expertise
  • Resources, tools, software and platforms to execute and measure all marketing efforts
  • Actionable data that is owned by the brand, not previous agencies

While in-house marketing is making the headlines, what we’re really seeing happen is a wider adoption of the hybrid model. A study from eMarketer shows that 52 percent of companies use a combination of outsourced and in-house resources.

Brands don’t want to fork out high retainer fees year-round. Not when they only need to leverage consultancy expertise or data insights a few times a year. In-house marketing teams are benefiting from new efficiencies in executing media plans. Brands are able to tackle campaigns effectively on their own.

Yet, a brand can’t always staff up in all expertise areas. With a hybrid model, they can tap into the knowledge of agency specialists.

“Be realistic about what can be done in-house and what can be outsourced to an agency. You don’t want to assume you can do it all and then, in turn, have your quality or processes suffer. On the other hand, no one is going to know your brand like you do. Do a trial run with one to three processes and see how your new hybrid model performs,” advises Bernard May of National Positions in this Forbes article.

A hybrid approach usually requires a project manager. This is someone on the in-house marketing side who coordinates efforts between teams. However, this is usually less work than coordinating multiple agencies and segregated media plans with an agency approach. And it’s more efficient than also either managing a slew of execution partners or tackling all production for an in-house-only team.

The Forbes article also quotes Nolin LeChasseur of Bainrider. “Rather than making a binary decision between in-house or outsourced marketing planning and execution, create a detailed view of the work pipeline — planning, building, running and measuring marketing programs — that will generate the marketing results you need. Then, determine which work blocks are strategic enough to keep with in-house teams and which can be outsourced to scale execution.”

Many of our client partners also have adopted this philosophy. They enjoy collaborating with us on the overall experiential marketing strategy. Then they turn over the campaign for us to handle all production, execution and reporting. They can leverage our expertise – as well as our insurance coverage. I mean, do they really want to handle event research and permit applications for a six-month mobile tour? (I don’t think so.)

As you bring marketing in-house, the choices you make to extend to external partners become more critical. You want to select partners that will handle your brand with care and provide specialized expertise. It’s also important they have a cultural fit with your internal teams.

“Whether in-house or outsourced, invest in individuals who believe in your purpose and can share your story authentically,” advised Ahmad Kareh of Twistlab Marketing in a Forbes article.

If you’re looking to collaborate with an experiential marketing specialist, we’re here to help your internal teams strategize customer experiences across multiple touchpoints.