In-house agencies are increasingly able to attract leading talent, but those based outside America’s major cities may need to adopt creative solutions, such as leveraging virtual teams, in building out their capabilities.

Nate Perkins, a principal at Boston Consulting Group, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 In-House Agency Conference.

He also outlined the results of the company's quantitative and qualitative analysis of the challenges facing in-house shops.

“When we looked at the results of our quantitative survey, by far and away, talent engagement and talent acquisition were the top concerns,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: BCG’s test-yourself tips for in-housing your advertising.)

“Almost half – 44% – of respondents, were concerned with talent acquisition,” continued Perkins. And an even greater number, 63%, were “concerned” or “very concerned” about talent engagement in particular.

But the stigma that once surrounded working for in-house agencies has receded. “When in-house agencies were still a very nascent trend in the industry,” Perkins said, “there were ‘respectability’ and ‘reputation’ concerns with moving in-house.

“That has really evaporated over the past decade-plus, as many more companies have in-housed their agencies, and the work that's been done in-house has gained a ton of respect and credibility.”

Some recruitment issues, Perkins said, were a worry for companies “in mid-tier cities [or smaller] cities, where there might not be the same talent pool for the roles you need to fill in in-house agencies.”

Salary was another pain point, as respondents often cited “the higher range of the salary scales when they were attracting this talent … But getting the right people for these roles is critical.”

“There’s a lot of talent that's in New York," Petros Paranikas, senior partner/managing director at Boston Consulting Group, further explained. "There’s a lot of talent in San Francisco. It’s very competitive. There are other markets where there are great people and maybe there is not much competition.

“If you can think about working as a virtual team, with talent based in multiple cities, it can actually help you benefit from that asymmetry.”

BCG also recommended “emphasising the attractiveness of a total package” – e.g. benefits, maternity leave, paternity leave, and working remotely – “during recruitment” and being “prepared to pay for specialised roles.”

Sourced from WARC