58% of client-side marketers report that their company has an in-house agency, a marked rise from 42% in 2008, according to new survey results from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). In-house agencies are being asked to handle a wide range of creative, strategic, and media planning and buying services, per the report, with one-third or more also tasked with data/marketing analytics (42%) and content marketing (34%).
An in-house agency was defined as “a department, group, or person that has responsibilities typically performed by an external advertising or other marcomm agency.”
Among the various traditional and digital creative services listed, respondents with in-house agencies indicated that they were most commonly handling collateral and promotional materials for traditional media (91%), followed by email (77%), trade show and event materials (73%) and direct mail (72%).
Research of late has shown that agencies are being increasingly sought after for their strategic expertise, and the ANA data indicates that many in-house agencies are also handling strategic initiatives beyond just the creative (60%), extending to marketing and product strategy (56%) and brand or corporate platform strategy (48%).
Meanwhile, respondents indicate that slightly more than half of in-house agencies handle media planning and buying services, ranging from magazine advertising (32%) and social media (28%) to radio and TV advertising (each at 21%).
The study suggests a possible disintermediation trend, with an increasing number of client-side marketers moving business in-house. In fact, 56% of respondents with in-house agencies claim to have transferred existing business from an external to an in-house agency in the past 3 years, while 52% have assigned newer functions to the in-house agency over an external one. (It’s worth noting that the sample sizes for those 2 data points is quite small.)
Cost efficiencies (88%) and institutional knowledge (79%) are the top advantages offered by an in-house agency, according to respondents with access to one. The main disadvantage appears to be in-house agencies’ (in)ability to stay on top of key trends, cited by 45% of respondents. Notably, the top disadvantage from the 2008 study – lack of depth of strategic thinking – has receded markedly as a perceived disadvantage, down from 61% of respondents to just 30% in this year’s study.
About the Data: The original ANA survey was conducted online during April and May 2013 among a respondent sample of 203 client-side marketers. Among those 203 marketers, 118 state that their companies currently have an in-house agency (58 percent penetration).
In June and July, a follow-up survey was conducted to help better understand the services moved from external to in-house agencies. That follow-up was sent to 118 respondents of the initial survey and had 57 responses. Results from that survey are also integrated into the report.
Respondents were drawn from the membership of the ANA and have an average of 17 years of experience in the marketing/advertising industry.