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Media: The In-House vs. Agency Dilemma

Insights / 06.29.2018

Red Door /

There's an art to effective paid media campaigns. That said, many CMOs find themselves asking the following question: Does it make more sense to have those artists on my payroll, as part of an in-house team — or should I outsource this tactic to an agency partner?
 
In this episode of The Marketing Remix, “Media: The In-House vs. Agency Dilemma,” Emily Spears, Media Manager of Display & Social Advertising, and Aaron Turkle, Paid Search Strategist at Red Door Interactive, break down the in-house vs. agency dilemma, it’s near and long-term ramifications on the marketing industry and where brand marketers go from here.

Why are marketers questioning in-house media vs. agency media services?

Brands are pulling media in-house because they didn't like what they were seeing from their agency partners, whether that involves issues with transparency or simply wanting more control over the buying process, their data, how budget is being spent or ad placement all together. Another element is cost efficiency – they want to save money.

How does an agency vs. in-house manage transparency?

In some cases, an agency and in-house team are going to have the same level of control over where your ad is being shown. Either way, there are risks with showing up on questionable YouTube content, etc. Whether it’s an agency or an in-house team, they’ll have to make the decision to run there or not. That said, an in-house team might feel like they have control if they're the running things; they at least have direct knowledge of where their ads are showing up.

Do agencies get certain benefits because they're buying from more than one client?

There are certainly technologies out there that have high minimums. If you’re working with an agency, you benefit from having to only meet the agency minimum, and not necessarily the client minimum. This gives you the ability to dabble, rather than having to meet a $50,000/month minimum. The major benefits center around relationships, having access to account representatives, such as Facebook or Google. As a buyer, you have to have a certain level of spend to get access to those resources, which allow entry to betas, new ad types, etc.

Tracking and performance measurement: Are there differences between in-house versus agency?

An agency wants to drive the best performance, just as an in-house team would. That said, you could see some benefits from an agency that’s able to leverage different tools or different aspects of tools that might not be available to an in-house team. If you're trying more experimental things, an agency might have a different perspective than in-house based on experience. An in-house team may be isolated from seeing or learning from the success that comes from what another client may be trying.

What does it take to ramp up with talent, technology, etc. for an agency or in-house team? 

There are a variety of case studies on the subject. For example, a large financial institution pulled their programmatic in-house and it took two years complete that process. If you're looking to build your own internal platforms, that takes time and therein lies the problem – if it takes two years launch something, it’ll likely be outdated by the time you roll it out. In addition, finding qualified talent could be challenging, and once you do, it's a matter of retaining them.

What does this mean for the advertising and marketing industry, both near and long term?

The greatest shift will come with an increase in transparencies, as well as quicker and improved communication and collaboration. In some cases, agencies will have to work with in-house teams, and should position themselves as thought leaders, saying, "We know you have your internal team. We can work well together with that internal team and provide that thought leadership, be that kind of like one source of truth.” Along those lines, an agency can help train in-house teams, teach them about what the whole ecosystem is. Maybe it makes sense to have a smaller team at a local level, but that needs a lot of back up to your corporate goals and making sure that that's cohesive.

You’re running media with agency, how can you maximize that relationship?

Talk to your agency more often. An agency should be an extension of your team. One reason brands want to bring media in-house is that they think they’ll benefit from having that team sitting next to them. In some cases, that’s true. However, for bigger brands, that’s not going to be the case, even if they have an in-house team, it’s likely in another office. So regardless, whether it’s agency or in-house, it’ll require proactive communication. It’s also important to remember that you’re hiring an agency to be experts, so you can treat them as such. If you have a question about a metric or how something works, it’s helpful to have those conversations upfront to make sure everyone has a solid understanding of what we're looking at, why we're looking at it, and what matters. That way, we're all on the same page and we're looking at the data with the same understanding of what it means.
 
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