The trend toward in-housing will continue but at a global level looks less significant than recent US data has suggested, finds WARC, the global authority providing the latest evidence, expertise and guidance to make marketers more effective.

Whilst a succession of studies and a series of announcements by major brand owners has prompted marketers internationally to consider in-housing capabilities, WARC's Marketer's Toolkit 2019 survey revealed that, globally, the creation of in-house agencies to be a relatively low priority, named by only 15% of advertisers, behind issues such as culture, automation and e-commerce.

WARC's series of CMO interviews also reveal that brands still rely on external agencies for big brand ideas, but this is now just one aspect of the broader 'experience' agenda.

Rachel Hatton, Chief Strategy Office, Oliver, comments: "To read the marketing media over the last couple of years, one might reasonably think that in-housing is a recent and emergent phenomenon. In fact it's surprisingly pervasive.

"Research by the ANA earlier this year revealed that 78% of their members have in-house agencies, and 90% of these are stepping up their workload. My own company has been building bespoke agencies inside client organisations for the last 15 years."

Nick Manning, Senior Vice President, MediaLink, says: "For advertisers considering some form of in-housing, there are a number of key actions required. It is critical to answer the 'why, what and how?' questions with no room for ambiguity, with consensus across the company."

Key findings around in-housing from WARC's Marketer's Toolkit 2019 survey reveal that:

  • In-housing is a key consideration for brands of all kinds in 2019. Research shows that more than three-quarters of brands in the US are taking elements of their marketing in-house, and the trend is being replicated in many other markets. 
  • Proponents of in-housing cite many benefits. These include greater cost efficiencies, better control and oversight of data, and an improved understanding of the brand by those creating and managing campaigns. 
  • Creative and media in-house teams have distinct requirements. The former only works if it possesses the right talent, often with a strong external perspective, while the latter requires investment in data and insights skills, as well as the right tech stack. 
  • In-housing is not easy. Many advertisers, including Intel and Lenovo, have abandoned in-house teams, while others like Coca-Cola have opted to enhance oversight but leave day-to-day operations to trusted partners and agencies.

Summing up, Alex Brownsell, Senior Editor, Media at WARC, comments: "The path to in-house success is by no means straightforward. As our report shows some brands have opted to step back from in-housing, despite cost efficiencies and industry acclaim. Others like Burger King have eschewed in-housing entirely. Marketers in pursuit of the ample opportunities offered by in-housing would do well to tread carefully."

In-housing: Here to stay? is one of three themes explored in-depth in WARC's Marketer's Toolkit 2019. A free PDF sample of the report is available to download here. The full report is available to WARC subscribers, and includes survey analysis, expert opinion, outlines of in-house creative and media agency models, recommendations and pitfalls.

The Marketer's Toolkit 2019 is based on a survey of more than 800 client marketers and agency executives around the world, backed by CMO interviews and WARC's case studies and best practice guidance.

About WARC - advertising evidence, insights and best practice
WARC provides the latest evidence, expertise and guidance to make marketers more effective. WARC's mission is to save the world from ineffective marketing.
WARC's clients include the world's largest brands, advertising and media agencies, media owners, research companies and universities. They rely on WARC for rigorous, unbiased information and advice on almost any advertising and marketing issue, which WARC delivers via best practice guides, case studies, research papers, special reports and advertising trend data, as well as via webinars, awards, events and advisory services.
WARC collaborates with more than 50 respected industry organisations globally including: The Advertising Research Foundation, Cannes Lions, Effie Worldwide, Association of National Advertisers, ESOMAR, 4A's, IPA and DMA.
WARC was founded in 1985, and has offices in the UK, US and Singapore. In July 2018, WARC became part of Ascential plc, the global specialist information company.
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