In-housing: it’s much more than a buzzword

By Steven Wakeling

“In-housing” has been a hot topic across the European and US marketing scenes over the past few years. Major names including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Vodafone are just a few of the many global players that have decided to take greater control of their marketing activities – in order to bring talent, knowledge and technology into the folds of their own business. 

But why are brands investing in in-housing and why is this trend continuing to rise? In this article, we’ll explore these questions, as well as looking at the key considerations brands should take when they start thinking about going down this path.

What’s the appeal of in-housing?

2019 has been a tough year for marketers, who have faced the triple threat of reduced customer confidence and spending, increasingly ambitious sales targets, and tighter budgets – and these challenges are set to continue for 2020 and beyond. Dentsu Aegis’s 2019 CMO survey found that 41 percent of CMOs reported marketing budgets being held flat or declining over the next year, and 64 percent predicted that they would be under increased pressure to deliver tangible short-term results – showing the current reality for many CMOs is that of having to do more with less.

On top of that, ads are increasingly sophisticated and omnipresent and consumers are savvier than ever. There’s huge competition for the share of consumers’ attention, and crucially, their wallets.

That’s why it’s never been more important for brands to get closer to their customers and build sustainable advantage for their business. In-housing allows brands to do just that – if a marketing function is key to your business, then it makes sense for it to be inside your business – giving you more control over your future.

Whether brands bring day-to-day programmatic marketing or content production in-house, this greater ownership and control over marketing is core to unlocking vital revenue for many businesses – and a logical evolution as brands adapt to the changing marketing landscape.

The quest for increasing control

Brand safety, transparency, data privacy – these are all key concerns, not just for marketers but for the wider C-suite. And, critically, they are things that marketers need increasing levels of control over. But, it’s even more than that. In a world where everything happens in real-time, brands need to have the power to react in real-time too. If you don’t have instant access to your data and insights, it becomes impossible to react at speed.

Indeed, bringing together key day-to-day marketing capabilities in-house gives marketers ownership and control of their first party data, campaign insights, brand safety, and ultimately their future.

Programmatic marketing is a perfect example of this type of core marketing activity, and as the technology becomes more democratised, programmatic has become a natural starting point when it comes to in-housing. Dentsu Aegis’ study reported that 92 percent of chief marketing officers from across the globe are planning to maintain or increase their programmatic capabilities internally. 

And according to a recent survey by the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) and Mailjet, in-housing on the whole is continuing to grow. The vast majority (86%) of brands surveyed said that they are currently in-housing some of their marketing functions – and hope that this will help boost business growth, improve productivity and be a better use of budget.

In-housing is great for many, but each business is different

The true value of in-housing is that it’s a means to an end: it brings brands closer to customers and helps them to reach commercial goals. And there are lots of different ways in which to do that – from building a new team to leveraging tools and technology or creativity – which is why every in-housing journey is different.

But it’s not for everyone. An organisation might not have the internal buy-in to drive the process, build a talented team or make it a success, and without stakeholder support it can be like pushing a pea up Everest. But if there are key challenges to overcome and processes to improve, in-housing can be a fantastic solution.

For this reason, ‘in-housing’ is so much more than just a buzzword: it’s a natural next step for brands that are prepared to take the long term view and take control of their destiny in order to increase their chances of future success.

By Steven Wakeling

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