After years of banging the drum about gaining more control, transparency and efficiencies from service providers, marketers are doing it themselves.
Cost and speed to market are necessities for marketers struggling to drive growth, but too many third-party relationships often slow things down.
“Our current situation is unproductive, unsustainable, undesirable and untenable,” ANA CEO Bob Liodice said onstage during his opening remarks at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday.
Seventy-eight percent of marketers surveyed by the ANA for a study released this month have an in-house agency, up from 42% in 2008. Sixty-five percent of those respondents said the in-house agencies’ workload has increased significantly over the past year.
“We, and I mean the collective we in this room, are taking back control of marketing to drive growth,” said Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard onstage.
Here’s a look at a few marketers taking control over their digital spend.
Progressive Insurance was one of the early adopters of in-housing, standing up a media department next to its internal agency, 96 Octane, eight years ago. The firm brought media in-house because it wanted more control over how its money was being spent, said Jeff Charney, CMO at Progressive.
As big brands take more responsibility over their digital media executions, agencies are being relegated to large-scale, strategic initiatives centered around offline media spend.
EBay, for example, still works with media agencies, but typically only on offline channels, Deering said. Agency partners will sometimes buy digital, but only if they’re endemic, non-programmatic buys. And with Ancestry working directly with Facebook and Google, its media agency, OMD, handles mostly offline media spend.
Progressive doesn’t work with an external media agency at all. Although it has an internal creative agency, it retains Arnold for offline mass media campaigns and conceptual big idea development. Again, that decision comes down to control, Charney said.
“We can control the culture with an internal agency,” he said. “Arnold’s culture is similar to ours, but I can’t control it.”
While agencies may be losing their grip on digital execution, they’re still relevant in certain ways. OMD is a crucial partner for Ancestry, which spends about half its budget on offline media, in negotiating upfront deals.
“There’s a continuum of scale and control,” Mehra said. “We could buy linear TV in the upfront, but we’re much better off with OMD, which takes billions of dollars to the market.”
Agencies must embrace this new environment of brand oversight by adding value and helping brands through this transition, rather than fighting for that control back.
“I always felt like there was so much room for agencies to act in a more consultative ways,” Deering said. “Even if the buying practice comes in-house, having that nimble and objective view to the landscape can’t be underestimated.
“I don’t see it going so dramatically where there’s no future for agencies, but they have to evolve.”