Growing interest from marketers in scaling in-house agencies, WFA report shows

Despite the promise, managing relationships between external and internal shops remains a challenge, according to a study compiled with The Observatory International.

In-house creative teams: in place at 57% of multinational companies
In-house creative teams: in place at 57% of multinational companies

As companies consider how to keep a lid on budgets and yet keep quality levels up, they are turning to in-house creative units to keep their marketing teams buzzing.

According to Global Trends in Creative In-Housing, a report from the World Federation of Advertisers and The Observatory International, global companies are expanding their in-house creative agencies, especially for digital content.

The report states that 57% of multinationals now have in-house creative teams. Three-quarters of these in-house units have been set up in the last five years, and in-house teams are absorbing more work, with 82% saying workloads are increasing in the last year.

According to respondents, moving work in-house has delivered lower costs (30% lower in some instances), better integration (64%) and increased brand and business knowledge (59%).

Over half also reported that in-house teams had quicker and more agile processes. The report is based on responses from 53 advertisers with an approximate annual global spend of $83bn (£61bn).

Over 90% of respondents said their in-house agencies have in-house creative capabilities for digital content, compared with half who have in-house media planning and buying capabilities.

Almost all respondents (95%) continue to work with external agencies, however, and among this group approximately 37% of creative output now comes from the in-house team. Several respondents said managing the relationship between external and in-house creative teams presents a challenge. Some looked to external agencies for big, strategic ideas, with regular production work done in-house, while others had the reverse approach.

Almost 40% said that they allowed both in-house and external agencies to pitch against each other for projects to drive the best possible responses. However, 43% said they briefed in-house agencies differently from the external ones, and over half admitted that their in-house agencies were assessed on different KPIs.

"What this survey highlights is the need for clearly defined roles and responsibilities as well as a clarity over scope of work for each agency, in-house and external," Stephan Loerke, chief executive at the WFA, said. "Having an imbalance in working processes creates problems and challenges that could mean that neither resource is used to maximum capability."

In addition, the survey also unearthed some interesting trends about in-house agencies: Over four in five respondents were either satisfied or completely satisfied with the output of their in-house teams.

The top challenge cited for in-house teams was managing workflow, which was a challenge for nearly two-thirds of respondents.

The core creative services being handled by in-house units were video production, video, email/eCRM, collateral (such as e-brochures and sales kits) and social media, all of which were found at 73% of respondents.

In-house creative teams vary widely in size: 57% of respondents had 50 or fewer people in total across all of their in-house creative agencies, whereas 24% had over 100 people.

A version of this story originally appeared on Campaign Asia

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