Travel website and successful media in-houser, has launched a consultancy, Playbook, that will help other brands follow its lead and bring both media planning and buying in house.

The news was first reported in Campaign, which noted that the brand had put its relationship with media agency Manning Gottlieb OMD “on hold” in 2016. Since then, it has brought most of its media activity into its internal processes, though it will continue to work with agencies on above-the-line campaigns.

Playbook, its new consultancy, will sit inside a new media company, called Forward, which will contain it and The Travel People. Alessandra Di Lorenzo, Lastminute’s chief commercial officer will become the CEO of this new company.

In 2016, Lastminute launched an advertising platform, Travel People, which helps brands advertise across its five brands and on nine further sites through the Travel Alliance consortium. The move reflected a part of a growing trend of e-commerce media, pioneered by Amazon, and now proliferating across other online retailers. According to The Drum, Travel People has helped increase annual media revenues by 40% in three years.

Speaking to Campaign, the company explained its point of view: “If marketing activity is core to your business, it should be inside your business.” Playbook’s first client will be the travel publisher Rough Guides, though the service will become available to all sectors.

“We have cracked one of the most performance- and cost-driven sectors,” Di Lorenzo told Campaign. "Having done this in travel, we believe we can help other sectors and other brands – anybody that may benefit from what we’ve done.

“We realised that we are perfectly placed to de-risk the process for other businesses and to help move other brands forward by making their marketing activity more efficient, intelligent and relevant.”

She insisted that the move did not suggest that the company was anti agency, as much as it is pro-efficiency. From its own experience, it has observed that in-housing “repeatable” marketing activity could bring much needed speed to the process.

In-housing media planning and buying is growing in prominence. As WARC’s deep-dive into in-housing (part of the Marketer’s Toolkit 2019) found, 78% of US advertisers have established some in-house marketing capability, while 44% of UK brands are considering or have set one up.

Despite this interest, many brands considering in-housing feel overwhelmed by the choices that agencies are more accustomed to making. It is in this space, among those decisions, that Playbook seeks to operate. “Sometimes marketers don’t know where to start. How do you select the right platforms when there’s so many vendors? How do you get the right pricing?” Di Lorenzo added.

At the agency level, in-housing consultancy is growing in importance. Last December, S4 Capital, Sir Martin Sorrell’s new venture, acquired MightyHive, a US-based programmatic buying company, with an in-housing advisory business. In March, its co-founder and CEO, Peter Kim explained how his agency gives clients a “spectrum of options” for in-housing.

Elsewhere, CEO of WPP, Mark Read, has poured cold water on the idea that in-housing was as rampant as thought. “Clients underestimate the challenges of recruiting, retaining and training the people,” he told investors. However, he noted that there was growing demand for co-location or the creation of on-site agency teams.

Sourced from Campaign, The Drum, Marketing Week, WARC