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In-House Agencies

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How can my brand bring media or creative in-house?


Taking media and creative in-house has become one of the most talked-about trends in marketing. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and not every organization will find in-housing media to be beneficial when weighing the initial investment costs against the savings in agency fees.

Eve Asbury, the in-house specialist and co-lead of the creative team at Boathouse, stressed the importance of building a sense of purpose and connection with staff, not to mention hiring more "makers," stating in an article for ANA: 

"You need more makers than managers. The majority of in-house agencies have too many managers. This causes more meetings than necessary, as well as too many cooks in the kitchen, both of which take time away from the makers doing the work.

Culture, camaraderie and a sense of purpose are the final components needed to build a healthy in-house agency. The pandemic required everyone to find different ways of working, but as a service department, the in-house agency team had the additional pressure of keeping stressed peers happy.

The most successful in-house teams are driven with a strong sense of purpose and a positive culture, and it's this foundation that gives them the agility and resilience to deal with new challenges."

Below are helpful best practices, examples, and case studies.

Best Practices and Trends

  • ANA In-House Agency Fact Book. ANA, January 2024. The ANA In-House Agency Fact Book is comprised of some of the best client-side marketer in-house agencies in the world, highlighting the structure, capabilities, and operations of in-house agencies at ANA corporate member companies. The fact book serves as a reference point for other in-house agencies and those looking to learn more or start their own in-house agency.

  • The In-House Intelligence Report. Cella, 2024.
    The 2024 Cella Intelligence Report, formerly known as the In-House Industry Report, focuses on providing a universal view of the current state of Marketing and Creative Operations. In its 14th year, this annual benchmarking focuses on the dynamics that teams experience across the industry as well as within their specific teams. This year, Cella surveyed nearly 500 of the industry's top pros and asked them to share their collective knowledge with us. The interactive report provides a detailed look at their responses and provides analysis and perspectives from leading industry experts. Sample finding:

  • The Continued Rise of the In-House Agency. ANA, May 2023.
    Every five years since 2008, the ANA has surveyed our members on the topic of in-house agencies — 2008, 2013, 2018, and now 2023. The research provides a unique and consistent benchmark on the evolution of in-house agencies and covers issues including usage of an in-house agency, specific services handled in-house, benefits and challenges, relationship with external agencies, staffing, KPIs, and more.

    Eighty-two percent of ANA members have an in-house agency in 2023 — up from 78 percent in 2018, 58 percent in 2013, and 42 percent in 2008. We predict penetration will eventually peak at 85 to 90 percent. In-house agencies should no longer be considered a "trend." They have become firmly entrenched as part of the holistic marketing ecosystem and are now a "mainstay." Sample finding:

  • Boosting In-Housing ROI: Harnessing the Power of Creative Storytelling. ANA, May 2024.
    As brands increasingly bring creative functions in-house, they gain greater control over their storytelling, boost efficiencies, costs, and accelerate their time-to-market. This approach provides a cohesive platform for developing creative concepts that can scale across channels, whether it's brand marketing, social media, or e-commerce.

  • Predict, Optimize, Achieve: Empowering In-House Agencies to Amplify ROI. ANA, May 2024.
    As the brand stewards of their organizations, many in-house agencies bear the responsibility of managing spending, projecting marketing results, and measuring ROI, oftentimes all at once. This session is for in-house agency leaders eager to take control of forecasting and reporting. Matt Hertig, CEO of ChannelMix, advised in-house leaders on the best practices of spend optimization, modeling, and resource allocation to help their brands navigate uncertain markets with clear strategic direction. View the full presentation here.

  • Creative Agility: The In-House Agency Difference. ANA, May 2024.
    In-house agencies are the essential centers of excellence in the marketing organization that can deliver at the speed of culture. It is this "creative agility" that sets in-house agencies apart; the ability to not only execute quickly but with creativity that makes a significant impact. This is the guiding principle behind The Kitchen, Kraft Heinz's in-house agency. Simon Au, executive creative director of The Kitchen, North America, talked about how he motivates his team to balance speed with substance to create award-winning work. View the full presentation here.

  • 4 Ways to Elevate In-House Creative Agencies. ANA, February 2024.
    The world of in-house creative agencies is witnessing a paradigm shift, one that calls for a transition from tactical efficiency to transformational creativity. This article identifies four imperatives that distinguish the best in-house agencies: identity, structure, process, and positioning. It unpacks these elements to understand how they can revolutionize your agency.

  • Quantifying the Value of the In-House Agency. ANA/Blum Consulting, September 2023.
    In general, in-house agencies are expected to deliver at least two, if not all three of the most common efficiency goals of the marketing organization — faster, better, cheaper. In this white paper, Blum Consulting quantifies how well in-house agencies (IHA) deliver on these expectations. Key insights include:
    • On average, internal agencies take 25 percent less time to deliver the same assets.
    • 25 to 44 percent savings when the IHA produces lower complexity assets or campaign deliverables.
    • To staff the same internal resources at an external agency, a brand would pay on average 60 percent more for the same team.
  • Six Tips for Staffing In-House Agencies and Building Their Cultures. ANA, June 2023.
    Andrew McKechnie, who formerly held leadership roles at the in-house agencies of Apple and Verizon, offered six tips for hiring for and building the culture of an in-house agency:
    • To attract talent, build a strong employer brand that stands outside the larger corporate culture of the organization.
    • Be sure to attract top talent to the leadership roles at the in-house agency, as this will influence the level of talent that you will be able to attract to other roles.
    • Prioritize hiring entrepreneurial self-learners.
    • Be willing to tolerate some free-spiritedness, which encourages the willingness to share diverse perspectives that is so essential to collaborative creativity.
    • Make empathy for your team's superpower, cultivating a sensitivity to the considerable sacrifice required by the creative work of an in-house agency. Be sure to be there for team members when they need you.
    • Champion the people behind the work that your in-house agency does.
  • Leveraging AI for Marketing Success: A Guide for In-House Agencies. ANA, June 2023.
    AI is a practical and readily available tool at the marketer's disposal. Today, marketing teams can leverage AI to develop content, increase their output, and bring capabilities in-house previously thought unattainable. It is the next evolution of in-house agencies, moving closer to the ideal: brand stewards with incredible speed to market, cost efficiencies, and top-class creativity.

    Few have seen the evolution of in-house agencies from the vantage point of Michael Olaye, SVP managing director of strategy and innovation at R/GA. With over 20 years of experience, he knows how far the field has come in recent years. As one of Ad Age's top AI marketing leaders, he sees a future in which AI empowers in-house agencies of all sizes to redefine their marketing potential.

  • Mastering the In-House Agency Evaluation. ANA, April 2023.
    How do you currently measure the health of your relationship with your in-house creative teams? As with any good working partnership, it's important to set expectations and monitor progress and achievements. While some may feel setting up internal evaluations can damage the working relationship, or make the agency feel like a vendor, our position is, when done right, in-house agency evaluations drive better process, output, and ultimately a better relationship.
  • Global Trends in Creative In-Housing. WFA/Observatory International, September 2020.
    A WFA survey found that the top benefit of having in-house creative services given by respondents was cost efficiencies, so it's understandable many of them would be realizing cost savings. For instance, 69 percent stated that by having an in-house agency they had achieved savings of 6 percent upwards in the last 12 months, with 48 percent seeing savings of over 20 percent. Brands calculate these figures by comparison against external agency fees and production costs, using industry body benchmarks and cost indexes:


  • A 21-Step Process to Streamline In-House Work. ANA, May 2024.
    During a session held at the ANA's 2024 In-House Agency Conference, Securian Financial described the 21-step process its in-house agency has developed to streamline the process of responding to business partners' requests. Securian's process is composed of a sequence of four broad stages:
    • Strategy
    • Creative development
    • Execution
    • Measurement
  • Inside the Planning Process for Best Buy's New 70,000 Square Foot Content Studio. ANA, May 2024.
    Heidi Tuneberg, senior director of production and business affairs at Best Buy, discussed her brand's new state of the art Best Buy Studios, a 70,000 square foot internal production facility. She outlined the reasons why the studio was needed, how she and her team made the business case and obtained funding, and some of the ways in which the studio has enabled content innovation.

  • The Case for Bringing Production Inside. ANA, May 2024.
    In 2023, Bayer Consumer Health expanded the remit of its four-year-old in-house agency (known internally as "ContentHaus") to include decoupled production — effectively centralizing all third-party production management, from asset planning to pre-pro to post. This session explained the business case for bringing production in-house, the process of building world-class production capability within the business, how Bayer and OLIVER work with Bayer's roster of external AORs, and the scale, quality, and savings achieved.

  • Survive and Thrive as an In-House Creative. ANA, May 2024.
    In-house creatives face unique challenges. In this session, Michelle Schoening, associate vice president of marketing communications and design, web content and strategy for Navy Federal Credit Union, dissected common struggles, commiserated about challenges, and (most importantly) changed the narrative on the value in-house creatives bring to an enterprise. See the full presentation here.

  • In-Housing Through Offshoring: How Lilly Marketing Studios Sourced Talent Across the Globe. ANA, May 2024.
    Sourcing offshoring talent can add incredible value to your organization and to your leadership. Lilly Marketing Studios, Eli Lilly's in-house agency, leverages offshore talent as an enabler of their "follow the sun" strategy to keep projects moving at all hours of the day. Offshore employees are perceived as an extension of Lilly Marketing Studios, seen on equal footing with stateside colleagues. Chris Worden has spent years sourcing talent across the globe, and through it all reinforces a one-team culture that keeps onsite and offshore employees meaningfully connected to each other. Here, Chris spoke about the challenges and opportunities that come with offshoring as well as key performance indicators that are worth measuring to track success. See the full presentation here.

  • Measure the Value of In-House Resources to Your Organization Beyond Time-to-Market Delivery. ANA, May 2024.
    In-house resourcing continues to rise, but how do you continue to prove value after the foundation has been set? Especially with regards to in-house media, it is critical to audit channel spend to ensure your media strategy meets KPIs. Boston Scientific's Britt Wacholz discussed the importance of measuring Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and its effect on resourcing, project prioritization, and most importantly, revenue attribution. See the full presentation here.

  • Scotiabank: Reinventing In-House Process at Lighthouse. ANA, March 2024.
    Lighthouse is the in-house agency for Scotiabank and the epicenter of its creative excellence. The team has experienced significant growth in the last three years, inviting some new and exciting changes. Lighthouse recently evaluated their operations and implemented new solutions to better manage capacity. Today's model is designed to be flexible and adaptable, allowing the team to respond quickly to changing client needs. Lighthouse's agency growth was discussed by Christine Sabourin, VP of marketing services, and Ashley Eaton, director of agency and event management.

  • See the full library of In-House Excellence Award case studies by clicking here.

Webinars and Podcasts

  • Talent Strategies to Maximize Your Creative Output. ANA, March 2024.
    Managing your team size and budget against the ever-growing list of project requests is more challenging than ever, however there is a solution. Learn how an array of managed solution options can save your budget and allow your team members to do the work they love while retaining full control of all creative work.

  • The Continued Rise of the In-House Agency: 2023 Edition. ANA, June 2023.
    Every five years since 2008, the ANA has surveyed our members on the topic of in-house agencies — 2008, 2013, 2018, and now 2023. The research provides a unique and consistent benchmark on the evolution of in-house agencies and covers issues including usage of an in-house agency, specific services handled in-house, benefits and challenges, relationship with external agencies, staffing, KPIs, and more. Results of the latest study were discussed in this webinar, along with implications.

  • Transforming In-House Production for Creative Agility. ANA, April 2023.
    Like many corporate marketers, brand managers at Johnson & Johnson worked with a large roster of production partners, facing inevitable delays when working between creative and production, while factoring in each vendors' different types pricing and processes. To capitalize on the power of their in-house agency, the company set out to build a centralized production engine that could create content and consolidate all production across 45 brands to support nearly 60 different production tactics.

    Working with Wunderman Thompson, the team created a quick-turn, high-quality digital, multimedia, and print asset production hub scaled across markets which encompassed a true partnership with internal groups such as IT, Sales, Marketing, R&D, and procurement teams. During the first year, the new model delivered 14,000 projects, supported major launches including the COVID-19 Vaccine, and resulted in a massive cost savings. In this session, the client and agency team shared how they approached creating a smarter and more agile way of working.


    • In-House Agency vs. External Agency Model. ANA/Demand Metric, April 2018.
      With this tool, you can review your in-house agency vs. external agency model and evaluate the different options available when it comes to considering the best mix of in-house and external agency resources.


  • In-House Agency Committee.
    The In-House Agency Committee is for client-side marketers that manage the creative and/or operations of their in-house agency, including other in-house marketing work. Those interested in starting an in-house agency or learning more about in-house marketing also are welcome to participate.


  • In-House Agency Optimization: The Intake Process (Virtual). ANA.
    One of the most common areas for operational inefficiencies is your intake process, which includes project classification and workflow best practices based on project types. In this session, IHA leadership will learn best practices and solutions to better manage the creative process from intake / request through execution to drive better creative output and internal client satisfaction. We will also discuss how to share the internal process to help drive better partnerships with internal stakeholders and align the internal creative team. Expect to walk away from this session with pragmatic solutions for how to set up each project for success and align your internal teams at the start of each project for better client communication around project expectations. Contact for more information.

  • Positioning Your IHA for Operational Success (Virtual). ANA.
    In this virtual workshop, marketing operations, agency management leaders, in-house agency operations and marketing stakeholders can discover how to set up your IHA for operational success. We will discuss how to both plan and scope the IHA, how to standardize the intake process, and best practices on how to measure and maintain a healthy relationship that maximizes effectiveness for all stakeholders. As a result, you will be prepared to launch best practices for cross-functional collaboration and operational optimization that leads to more efficient and better outputs. Expect to walk away from this session with three specific ways that your organization can help your IHA deliver their best work and ultimately grow their value to the company. Contact for more information.

The Marketing Knowledge Center actively connects ANA members to the resources they need to be successful. You can visit the ANA website to engage with the MKC in three ways.

  • Explore content to access best practices, case studies, and marketing tools. Our proprietary content includes Event Recaps, which share actionable insights from conference and committee presentations.
  • Connect with our Ask Research Service in real time for customized answers to your specific marketing challenges.
  • Stay on top of trends with Marketing Futures Pulse issues, which explore how new technologies and innovations will affect marketers and consumers alike.

Submit a request to Ask Research Service here.


"In-House Agencies." ANA, 2024.