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The Rise of the In-House Agency

September 5, 2013

By Bill Duggan, Group EVP, ANA

ANA has released a new report, “The Rise of the In-House Agency,” and the findings are most interesting.  Highlights:

The penetration of in-house agencies has increased 16 percentage points, to 58 percent, from our last survey in 2008. Also, there has been an increase in the number of employees on staff at in-house agencies.  

 The services handled by in-house agencies are varied.

In-house offer key advantages and appear to be growing in stature:

Traditional agencies are being disintermediated to some degree by in-house agencies. A majority of survey respondents say that:

The full report is available onthe ANA website.

Comments   1 comment(s)

Thomas Cunniff September 5, 2013 6:19pm ET

Bill, this is a terrific -- and timely study.

I worked for an in-house agency for a decade. When people asked if that was smart I always said "depending how you look at it, we're either 50 years behind the times or about 5 years ahead of it." A few thoughts...

1) Interesting that data is ranked so low as a reason to do this. I predict within 5 years this will be in the top 3. Leveraging in-house CRM data in combination with external data sources as a way to reach audiences and obtain consumer insight will soon be common practice.

2) The relentless fragmentation of audiences and expansion of devices means more creative has to be produced faster than ever. It's difficult for marketers to pay more, and it's impossible to ask agencies to accept less. In-house agencies offer speed, flexibility, and lower cost. I expect further growth in this area, as well as a growing reliance on machine-generated (and/or heavily machine-assisted) creative work. Narrative Science already publishes fully computer-created articles in Forbes. Soon we'll see tests of entirely computer-created ads, and they will be better than most people might think.

3) I think the inexorable rise of programmatic media buying and the rise of in-house agencies will be mutually supporting trends. The challenge for external agencies will be to prove that they can attract better talent and can routinely offer better solutions. The best agencies will be able to do this and will thrive. But I expect that many weaker agencies will struggle.

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