Client marketers’ stampede to take more and more functions away from agencies and pull them in-house is continuing at breakneck speed even though firms are failing on the key goals of boosting both productivity and creativity, with most blaming budget constraints and technology failings for putting the kibosh on their plans.
So says a new DMA report, ‘Understanding In-Housing: Bringing Marketing Functions Home’, backed by email marketing firm Mailjet. While increased productivity (47%) and enhanced creativity (38%) are the top expected benefits, both (productivity -15% and creativity -11%) went down when marketers reported on the benefits they had actually realised.
Despite the gap, the majority of brands (86%) plan to continue in-housing in the future, with email marketing (62%) being identified as the leading function to take control of. On average, six separate marketing functions are currently being handled in-house.
However, brands face a range of challenges when implementing strategies to create an in-house marketing function, the report states, with the most significant being “limited budget” (41%) and “adopting new technology” (35%).
The research shows that most brands (69%) are heavily focused on investing in new technology to make in-housing easier; more than one in six (17%) cited a need for appropriate collaboration and communication tools specifically.
The report also highlighted the risks of creating an “echo-chamber” of ideas through in-housing as a key concern among over a third (37%) of marketers.
Yet, while companies show no signs of slowing down in-housing, it is not all doom and gloom for agencies, with 87% of brands still committed to maintaining the same level of agency investment. Most believe certain marketing functions – including “creative and design” (46%) and “content and copywriting” (39%) – are still best executed by an agency partner.
Beyond these concerns, over a third (37%) of marketers also worry about an absence of agency expertise in technical areas. “CRM and experience management” (41%), and “search engine optimisation” (37%) are also identified by respondents as areas where value still lies in the right agency partner.
DMA head of insight Tim Bond said: “In-housing is not a binary choice. It’s not either/or. Our research shows one in 12 organisations are using what we have called a ‘blended’ strategy – combining the two.
“The key for brands, whichever strategy they choose, is clear: bringing any marketing function in-house is just the first step. To achieve the results brands set out at the beginning of this process means investing in the skills, talent and technology within their organisations. The brands that are able to drive collaboration in this changing environment will be the ones that ultimately succeed.”
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