Why in-sourcing doesn’t have to be anti-agency

Earlier in April, Lastminute’s chief commercial officer for media and partnerships, Alessandra Di Lorenzo said that its plans to launch a consultancy to help other brands take their media and marketing in-house wasn’t “anti-agency”.

However, research from our White Paper, Ahead of the Curve; Intelligent In-Sourcing for Long Term Shareholder Value, which is based on Dentsu Aegis Network’s research of more than 1,000 CMOs globally, shows that most clients actually feel the most effective way to deliver in-sourcing is through a collaborative process with the agency and client working together.

With this in mind, it does feel a little anti-agency. But it doesn’t have to.

We found that to deliver sustained value, in-sourcing programmes must:

· Align a company’s data strategy to its in-housing ambition. Data maturity is perhaps the most critical factor in any decision to in-source.

· Ensure investment in technology is driven by marketing capabilities and desired business outcomes. This will help close the gap between IT stakeholders and those charged with delivering long-term ROI from that investment.

· Address the potential risk of ROI erosion up front. Recognising that value resides in the implementation and use of the tech, rather than the tech itself.

This requires a new way of thinking about the agency-client model, built on true partnership and honest conversations — recognising respective expertise and capability of both parties and allowing marketers to access agency talent more flexibly.

One of the major points of a media agency’s existence is to bring the benefit of the multiplicity of what we do. We adapt and replay what we have learnt to different situations, we have an unrivaled view of different client models, across different levels of marketing maturity, types of operations and sectors.

We understand technology, but more importantly, the media and marketing capabilities that those technologies must enable. We also understand — because we see it first-hand — that talent skills and market knowledge are critical.

Delivering true in-sourcing requires dedicated resource with a broad range of skills across many specialisms. For example, knowledge of:

  • Each market’s inventory landscape (publishers, Supply-Side Platforms, formats, etc.)
  • The best application of available data
  • Brand safety capabilities across Demand Side Platforms (DSP) and ad verification partners.

All of these capabilities that brands handling in-sourcing themselves are currently building have been agency’s core competence for decades, so it makes sense to bring this together with a client’s needs.

As the architects of people’s overall experience of a brand, Media agencies are in a unique position to understand exactly what data and technology must enable in terms of media and marketing’s contribution to business outcomes. Situations may vary widely across organisations depending on their size and industry, as well as their digital maturity, but in conversations with current clients and new business prospects, it’s clear that a more intelligent mode of agency partnership needs to be fostered.

Making in-sourcing sustainable is, most often, a question of finding, retaining and developing talent and market knowledge. By a distance, from our survey, this is what clients identify as the biggest challenge and is driving new ways of thinking about client–agency partnerships, where agencies’ strengths are coupled with the expertise in client teams.

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