According to an October 2018 member survey of the Association of National Advertisers, the number of marketers with in-house agencies jumped from 42% in 2008 to 78% in 2018.
So what does that mean for the future of marketing and does this suggest that that external agencies are not as valuable as they used to be?
Most arguments promoting the in-house model revolve around the efficiencies in having an internal team steeped in the company and brand’s values who are be able to turn around relevant content in a manner faster than a traditional agency could.
So have external agencies lost their luster? The long and short of it is no. This argument is really a best case scenario and even then doesn’t tell the whole story.
For most marketers, having an internal team that could fulfill the same needs as an external agency would be prohibitively expensive. As opposed to funding the overhead of a full-time team, an agency retainer is still a better bargain for your average brand.
And while the rationale for an internal team follows that they would be more steeped in the brand than an external team, that’s not always the best thing. Many times an external point of view is exactly what you need. It’s possible to be so close to something that you can’t see the answer right in front of you.
In addition, the traditional view of agencies as bloated, slow and full of waste is outdated. Many agencies, like us, have adapted to become more nimble in the age of ever shrinking timelines and budgets.
Even in the best scenario case, external agencies still have their place and the same survey bears this out. While 78% of ANA members surveyed have in-house agencies, 90% of them still use outside agencies, which suggests that even with the internal shift of the marketing workload, external agencies are still valuable partners.