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From in-housing to ‘win-housing’.

Guides & Inspiration • Written by Mick Entwisle - CEO & Co-founder of Genero

Better, faster, cheaper.

Marketers have traditionally had to prioritise between speed, cost or quality, but these days that doesn’t cut it. They need all three. Tighter budgets, alongside smaller, more dispersed internal and agency teams post-COVID-19, will make this even more important. Marketing efficiency is one of the key challenges for the CMO and their marketing organisations – to be able to do more with less.

As efficiency has become a more important priority, the agency model has been under more pressure. Agencies undoubtedly play a critical role for any large brand, but the model wasn’t designed to produce content at the scale required for personalisation, testing and optimising creative across the growing number of digital platforms. And it definitely wasn’t designed for marketing efficiency.

The in-housing trend.

Most large brands are on the in-housing journey to some degree, bringing some capability that was previously outsourced in-house. Two of the main drivers have often been speed and cost savings, two priorities that have become even more important during the pandemic. Like the widespread acceleration of digital transformation, we’re likely to see an even faster acceleration towards in-housing and new ways of working across marketing and creative services, fundamentally changing the agency-client relationship.

The ANA reported over three quarters of brands already have an in-house agency and that number continues to climb. Within digital native and direct to consumer brands the numbers would already be higher, as the smartest organisations have set up with an in-house, agile, technology powered model at their core from day one.

Gartner’s CMO survey highlights the trend, showing spend allocation progressively moving away from agencies and towards martech, media and internal labour. The 3% decline in agency spend between 2017 and 2019 represents a shift of approximately US$15B away from agencies. According to the 2021 CMO survey, 29% of work that was previously carried out by external agencies has been moved to in-house teams over the last 12 months.

A new set of challenges.

In-housing has its benefits, but it often creates a new set of problems. Research by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) showed that in-housing is failing to meet every expected outcome.

Managing workflow, scaling efficiently and managing resources are the issues most often cited in industry research. It’s tough to manage peaks and troughs in demand and to find and maintain the variety of skills and experience needed to handle the breadth of work being brought in-house.

For the vast majority of brands, a hybrid model combining a growing in-house capability with external agencies, will be used. The key is finding the right balance, and a structure where the client and agency relationship is most effective. To move from ‘in-housing’ to ‘win-housing’, where the benefits sought from an in-housing strategy can be achieved, but the challenges it creates can be overcome.

Technology is key.

You don’t have to look very far to see the impact technology can have in transforming an industry – Airbnb, Uber, Netflix and Amazon have all shown the power of software and a new business model in addressing the limitations of an outdated, traditional model.

Technology has already enabled transformational improvements on the media side of the industry. Data analytics, CRM, programmatic media buying and Dynamic Creative Optimisation are a few examples of tech that have helped brands in-house media services, and that have led to broader industry disruption and improvement.

On the creative side though, technology adoption has been much more limited. The creative and production process hasn’t really changed for decades. And there’s only so much cost saving and efficiency improvement that can be achieved by moving people and capability in-house, without improving the model.

The real transformation will only come from disruptive technology that underpins the creative and production process, addressing challenges around workflow, scalability and flexible access to talent.

Supercharging human creativity.

Humans will always be a fundamental part of the creative process. But technology needs to be harnessed to improve efficient and effective collaboration between creative humans across the end-to-end process, to reduce the time and cost, without impacting effectiveness.

At Genero we see technology-enabled creative and open talent platforms as a key part of the marketing services structure moving forward. To augment the agency and in-house teams’ capabilities, with an agile creative and production process.

Platforms, like Whalar, Been There Done That and Genero, all combine a global network of creative talent and a software platform, with tools and a purpose-built workflow, that enables an efficient end-to-end process. This powerful combination of an always-on, outsourced, variable cost creative and content production network, with software powered workflow, delivers a smarter, faster, more efficient model.

It adds flexibility and scale to in-house and agency teams, without adding headcount, allowing resources to be instantly scaled up or down as needed, without the time and cost normally required. Anyone using freelancers will understand the time and cost associated even with that model, let alone hiring and downsizing full-time staff.

These sorts of platforms give marketers the ability to engage a larger pool of creative minds, to get a deep and diverse pool of creative ideas, and generate content from, and for, anywhere in the world.

A new model ‘win-housing’ structure.

Regardless of the structure used by any one brand, agencies will likely add the most value at the more strategic end, where there’s more likely to be enough time and budget to support their higher-cost, resource-intensive model.

In-housing will continue to become more widespread, but the benefits will most often be realised in bringing higher volume, simpler design and adaptation work in-house.

But it’s the space between the big agency thinking and the simpler creative and production work being done in-house that can most benefit from the adoption of creative and open talent platforms as part of the marketing services structure. The growing need for digital content, increasingly video, at speeds and costs that agencies can’t produce, but where specialist capabilities are needed, and human powered creativity and production quality remain key.

Technology that supports efficient human creativity will be key to filling this gap, and a core component of a successful in-house, agency and vendor structure.

This article was originally published on Little Black Book.

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