In-House Agencies Grow in Importance

August 30, 2013

By Bill Duggan

Over the last few months ANA has been surveying our members to better understand the penetration and use of in-house agencies.  We will officially release that research on September 4 and have a webinar scheduled for that day.  The findings are most interesting!

We define an in-house agency as “a department, group, or person that has responsibilities typically performed by an external advertising or other marcomm agency.” Note that an internal PR function is not part of our definition of an in-house agency. 

Many ANA members have in-house agencies and a dozen examples are: Adobe, AFLAC, Blue Shield of California, Combe, Dell, Fidelity, IBM, Kraft, Marriott, True Value, Wells Fargo, and Wendy’s. 

Traditionally, marketers have used in-house agencies for cost savings and quicker turnaround times, and those are still valid reasons for having an in-house agency.  Our survey shows that the penetration and stature of in-house agencies is rising. This increase is, in part, a reflection of the economic environment in which corporations have reduced budgets and are being challenged to do more with less. Moving the agency in-house — or increasing the role of an existing in-house agency — can help reduce costs.  The growth of digital/social/mobile and the need for quicker turnaround for those media has also played a role in the increased penetration and responsibilities of in-house agencies.

“Fast, cheap, good — pick two!”  Most every marketer and agency exec has heard that quote. For years, in-house agencies were known as being fast and cheap, but not necessarily good. Now, many are good — in fact, very good – and are providing critical strategic services.

This new research provides insights into the services that in-house agencies handle, the degree to which external agencies are displaced by in-house agencies, the advantages and disadvantages of in-house agencies, the internal costs to the company of employing in-house agencies, and more. In-house agencies are indeed rising and are now more important than ever!  We’ll share more in upcoming blogs following the release of the research report.

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