Recent years have seen a significant rise in the trend for brands to bring agency work in-house, with a report released last year by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) stating that almost 8 in 10 (78%) of its client-side members had an in-house agency, compared to just 42% in 2008. However, bringing agency functions in-house isn’t all plain sailing. Here are four pressing issues highlighted in a new report [pdf] from the ANA.
Note that the percentages represent those who checked one of the top 2 boxes on a 7-point scale, with the other points resulting from qualitative interviews with ANA members.
Keeping in-house agency talent energized
The majority (63%) of survey respondents said that keeping in-house agency talent energized was a significant concern for them. This may not be for a lack of work: the ANA’s earlier study revealed that in-house agency workload had increased.
Some tactics used by the respondents to keep talent energized include: having creatives work with multiple internal stakeholders or brands to expose them to new challenges; providing workshops that allow for the enhancement and sharpening of skills; and celebrating successes as a team.
Attracting top-tier agency in-house talent
Some 44% of respondents are very concerned that they are not able to attract top-tier talent to their in-house agency. This concern is reflected in other research: one study found that 53% of US advertising executives reported having difficulty finding creative professionals. A more recent piece of research noted that companies with an in-house agency report that one of their challenges is hiring and retaining talent.
Applying key marketing processes
While more than one-third (37%) of respondents voiced concern about applying key marketing processes when bringing their advertising in-house, some see it as an opportunity as well. They are able to refine the processes and put them into action internally and with their external agency partners.
Separate research on marketing operations has shown that many larger companies have room for improvement with their own processes.
Losing healthy creative tension
Some 1 in 5 (19%) respondents to the ANA survey also feared losing a healthy tension between client and agency as a result of in-housing. However, to avoid any illusion that working at the same company might improve communication, it’s worth noting an earlier report by InSource and inMotionNow where communication between in-house creatives and stakeholders was a significant issue.
The full ANA report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Quantitative figures are based on a survey of 111 ANA members, 50% of which had an in-house agency budget of $5 million or more.