A trend towards in-housing is raising concerns among agencies, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for brands and nor is the traffic all one way, according to a new WARC report which dissects the issue and highlights the potential pitfalls for marketers.

In-housing: here to stay?, part of WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2019, points out that in-housing comes in many shapes and guises and it is by no means a black-and-white situation.

Some brands have chosen to in-house digital content development; others have focused on digital media, in response to rising data security concerns. The nature of operations can range from fully-staffed in-house agencies, to smaller teams handling specific tasks, and “on-site” resources provided by external agencies.

The US-based Association of National Advertisers has claimed “explosive” growth in the level of in-housing, with 78% of its members now in possession of some form of in-house resource. But the equivalent trade body in the UK, ISBA, found only 44% utilising or considering in-house capabilities. And WARC’s 2019 Toolkit global survey found the creation of in-house agencies to be a relatively low priority, named by only 15% of advertisers, behind issues such as culture, automation and e-commerce.

At the same time as major FMCG brand owners like Procter & Gamble and Unilever have moved some areas of work in-house, tech brands like Intel and Lenovo have scaled down or scrapped their internal agencies.

The in-housing of creative and media management requires entirely distinct approaches to talent and infrastructure investment, the report notes.

“For brands like the BBC, it may make sense to take content creation in-house, as they have better access to creative talent. In-house media teams demand investment in unique skills and technology, and may suit more digitally native, data-led organisations. Brands should be selective about which – if any – elements of their marketing can be brought in-house.”

On the creative side, agencies have a marked advantage over brand teams, according to Fernando Machado, global chief marketing officer at Burger King.

“[Creatives] need to be thinking about more than one thing at the same time as they get really bored,” he said.

“I like the fact that the creative folks at our partners live and breathe in a different environment, in a different culture than the culture that I have in the office. I would be afraid of bringing these guys in and turning them into us.”

Sourced from WARC