Recent reports that Vodafone will be in-housing most of its digital media-buying is another confirmation of an established industry trend.

At Jellyfish, we’ve seen ten times more enquiries for in-housing over the last six months compared to 2017.

There’s no denying that agency models are changing but where there’s change, there’s opportunity. In-housing doesn’t necessarily mean brands won’t be working with agencies but more likely it marks a step-change in the relationship between the two.

As brands begin to take greater ownership of their media planning, buying and execution, they are calling on agencies to provide strategic and technical expertise as well as training.

In-housing will look different for each brand and will depend on a number of variables but before marketers even begin to have serious discussions both internally and externally around in-housing, these are the five golden rules they need to consider.

1. Ask the question: What does in-housing mean to me?

When it comes to in-housing digital media, there are four established operating models. From the ‘agency owned / agency operated’ model (where brands have little visibility of their media spend) at one end of the spectrum to the ‘client owned / client operated’ model at the other, and two hybrid models in-between.

It’s important for marketers to explore the options and think about what would work best for their brand or organisation.

2. Assess the pros and cons of technology ownership

There are a number of key considerations for marketers when it comes to tech ownership. Some challenges to think about are understanding and selecting the best technology options as well as assessing the cost implications of bringing technology in-house.

These need to be weighed up against potentially more effective campaign operations, greater transparency as well as the strategic benefits of vendor-direct relationships. It is my belief that brands should own the software and give access to partners on a needs base.

3. Building the right team: How do I future-proof my resource?

Finding and retaining the best talent within digital continues to be a major challenge across the industry. When it comes to in-housing, brands will need to weigh up the pros and cons of having a dedicated internal resource.

In house means individuals are immersed in your company culture but many brands run seasonal campaigns and therefore if you are not running paid search or display for several months at a time, do you ask them to take unpaid leave?

4. Establish clear processes

Whatever form of in-housing a brand decides to take, it’s essential to have clear processes in place that enable efficient ways of working. Whether an agency is involved in the process or not, there still needs to be operational transparency between all the different moving parts within the media chain. Create clear ownership and make people accountable to deliver back to the campaign/business success.

5. Demand a transparent media supply chain

Brands should have visibility of the media supply chain irrespective of whether they are working with an agency partner. Brands should directly contract with the publishers which matter to them and have proven themselves over time. Value does not always need to be cash back. Think data!!

Ultimately there’s no right or wrong operating model, but as seen above there are a number of considerations that brands need to take into account when thinking about in-housing. The key is to be clear about your motivations as these will inform your strategy and to weigh up the different options to assess what works best for each individual brand.

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