We have had numerous clients approach us having partly or fully tried to bring their marketing in-house many of which have fallen at the first hurdle. Over the years we have had conversations with various inconveniences relayed, and we’ve heard some real horror stories!
So, why might an advertiser want to take their marketing in-house?
- To own their customer’s data.
- To have transparency and trust.
- To have control.
- To cut costs.
- To satisfy the ever-increasing demand for regular, fresh content.
What are some of the challenges with in-housing?
Marketing, especially digital marketing, is subject to monthly updates on best practises and Google algorithm changes. The market itself is volatile and forever evolving, getting more competitive every year.
It is naïve to underestimate the complexities involved in managing and balancing these factors. KMG staff have continual training at Facebook and Google, and Agency Days to attend to keep on top of this. We also have regular Google and Facebook Exams to pass so that we are fully certified. KMG’s Premier Partner status means that we have dedicated representatives that provide account-specific support and advice to us.
Agencies have access to cross vertical data established and refined over a long period of time. In this day and age, brands can not afford to not let the data inform the strategy and creative direction. Agencies can monitor and identify search trends far more quickly and are best placed to react to them before marketing budget is wasted.
This means in-house agencies are often behind the curb, without the data at hand and playing catch up. Moreover, agencies are more likely to have the necessary tech to mine the data and apply machine learning scripts to use it effectively.
It is important to hire paid media managers and specialists. Avoid giving the responsibility to an existing employee as an addition to their role. This underestimates the work involved. Furthermore, management for an in-house agency is arguably more important. Recruiting, retaining and training valuable specialists is tough. And the kind of talent that any agency needs to have to succeed, can get bored easily without the stimulus of working across many accounts. Creativity without variety can become stagnated and uninspired.
One challenge that clients will rarely admit, but we have understood through reading between the lines; is that there can sometimes be a destructive in-house group consensus when people are too immersed with working with a brand every day. They can lose sight of the ultimate strategy. This can happen when everyone in a group convinces each other an idea or direction is the right one and therefore there is no external opinion to act as a check.
There’s a real benefit to having the neutrality of an agency to challenge this group mentality, so that strategy remains objective. Long term strategic direction should be guided by the advertiser, but how to get there is best left to an independent agency that is not emotionally attached or involved in in-house politics.
Finally, it is rarely cheaper to in-house and to do it well. It can become very expensive to hire permanent staff for all the elements that are involved in the process. You have to know exactly what you need and what skillsets to hire for. In-house teams are a fixed cost, compared to a flexible agency contract where you can hit the floor running. You are unable to tailor your resource level year by year depending on business performance.
Moving your marketing in-house may sound like a cosy affair, but challenges present themselves that are not easy to anticipate without experience. In-house advertisers are left without a Media Agency partner to blame and take accountability for the mess.