One trend that hasn’t slowed down through the coronavirus pandemic is in-housing. Brands are still eager to develop internal expertise that can increase their knowledge, control and flexibility. Advertising Week and Kargo kicked off a series of webinars last week with a session that looked at the advantages, best practices and lessons from in-housing pros.
Kargo CEO Harry Kargman led a discussion with three brand leaders, each with a unique and personal take on successful in-housing. Chris Paul of Verizon, Christian Rohfing of Anheuser-Busch InBev and Eric Gregoire of Bayer all shared the goals, challenges and benefits of building in-house programs.
The discussion is worth watching, however if you just want the highlights, we’ve provided a top-line recap below.
The Advantages of In-Housing
Ka-ching! Cost-efficiency was cited as the greatest incentive behind in-housing per our audience poll. Especially in the lean economy driven by the pandemic, the expert panelists cautioned against a savings-first approach. The panelists were also strongly united around the enhanced agility in-house teams bring to their marketing programs. With the sudden arrival of COVID, for instance, in-house creative and media teams were able to pivot much more quickly than external agencies could. In the case of Verizon, COVID was a primary inspiration for stepping up their in-housing at a faster pace. They needed to pivot to create campaigns that would be relevant for consumers transitioning to home offices and desperate for new equipment, greater bandwidth and bottomless data plans.
When asked about the biggest challenges to launching in-house agencies, our audience answered with a big ka-ching again, specifically about the startup costs. While our panel of speakers agreed that upfront expenditures were a challenge in selling through their programs, they also spoke to bureaucracy and unrealistic expectations as big hurdles. For Bayer and ABInBev, phasing in their in-house programs helped with managing expectations around performance. This also helped employees adjust as their roles and teams changed—a critical component to winning overall buy-in across a company. For Verizon, setting up a clear roadmap along with caveats to expect the unexpected helped keep everyone committed even when roadblocks popped up.
Is In-Housing Here to Stay?
A whopping 87% of our webinar audience answered yes. And our panelists agreed. While Bayer, Verizon and ABInBev will all still call on agencies for very specific goals where agency experience is crucial to performance, the cost-savings and agility that have come with bringing media buying and creative resources under their own roofs are just too good to ignore. For agency professionals concerned about their own future, panelists asserted that there will be growing demand for the same jobs in-house.
In-housing will likely be accelerated with the stress of the pandemic. With a unified internal team, brands can move faster, spend less and control the message across their media strategy. Looking ahead, there will be months of uncertainty, and brands with internal capabilities will be the most agile, and the best positioned to determine their strategy for the inevitable growth that will occur next.