In March, Unilever announced that they saved more than €500 million (US$562 million) in 2018 by moving some of the brand’s marketing from agency to an in-house team.

The savings were achieved by creating “more content in-house while making existing assets go further”, according to Campaign.

So, what does this announcement mean for brands? Should they follow Unilever’s lead and start looking to in-house marketing, or should they instead take advantage of the present agency talent surplus?

To find out, Econsultancy, in association with U Associates, has invited four industry experts to discuss the future of agencies vs. in-house marketing using questions collected from both client and agency-side professionals.

Joining us on Wednesday 10th April at 11:30AM Singapore time (1:30PM AST) will be:

  • Elizabeth Taylor, Senior Trainer, APAC, Econsultancy
  • Jennifer Villalobos, VP & Head – Digital Business, Income
  • Audrey Kuah, Managing Director, Global Data Innovation Centre, Dentsu Aegis Network
  • Connie Chan, Executive Director, Singapore, WPP Government & Public Sector Practice

You can register for the event here.

The discussion will be in a point-counterpoint format around four main topics, summarized below, though we’re open to answering additional questions from the audience, so do ask us anything!

1) Culture vs creativity

One of the main the main benefits of in-housing marketing is that the marketers live and breathe the brand – and know best how to overcome internal obstacles when attempting something new and creative.

This cultural barrier will always be a challenge for agency staff to overcome, especially those who do work for multiple clients.

That said, agencies are exposed to other brands and so they can provide new ideas which are often hard to cultivate in-house. Agency staff can also act as a ‘sounding board’ when marketers are working on a new strategic direction.

2) Core competency vs. collaboration

As marketing capabilities are rarely a company’s core competency, advertising, promotion and media execution are an agency’s ‘bread and butter’. Because of this, it makes sense for brands to outsource at least some of their marketing requirements to agency experts.

Yet, as some brands have found, having an in-house marketing team permits fast and easy communication among its members. Keeping everyone ‘in the loop’ is challenging when brands work with an agency partner, especially when marketers are not be able to share sensitive company information.

3) Technology costs vs. data governance

The costs of the technology stack required to fully utilize first, second and third-party data has risen sharply over the years. According to Digiday, a DMP and a basic bidder to buy programmatic ads costs US$300,000 in annual licensing fees alone.

Because of these and other expenses, many brands are remaining with agencies which spread technology costs across many clients.

Brands which own at least some marketing technology, though, will be able to use data which their company is unwilling or unable to share with an agency partner. In-housing marketing, therefore, may be a better choice for companies with strict data governance rules.

4) Strategic vs. execution-led marketing

Finally, brands with a constantly-evolving marketing strategy may be inclined to in-house resources. Client-side marketers are more aware of the problems their company faces while agency staff may never know the whole story.

On the other hand, brands with an established long-term strategy might be better off outsourcing as agencies are better-resourced to manage execution. On the brand side, it can be difficult to maintain the right number of people on the marketing team which keeps staff engaged, yet not over-extended.

Agencies, however, have resources which they can draw on as necessary, making it easy to grow or shrink a team as necessary.

Come and join us…

So, it appears that there are many factors which need to be considered when a brand is deciding whether to in-source its marketing or rely on an agency partner.

To hear these issues discussed in detail by industry experts, sign up for our Ask Me Anything: In-house marketing vs. using an agency here and tune in on Wednesday, April 10th at 11:30AM Singapore time (1:30PM AST).