In-housing (mostly) fails to meet brand expectations: U.K. study

While in-housing has been one of the hottest topics in the industry the past couple of years, marketers say that it has largely failed to meet their expectations in key areas, including brand consistency and cost-saving, according to a new U.K. study.

The study by the Data & Marketing Association and MailjetĀ found a (sometimes wide) disconnect between what marketers expected and what they achieved across 13 key metrics, including increased productivity, improved decision-making, better brand consistency and more transparency.

While marketer expectations were closely aligned with outcomes in several areas, such as better control of campaigns (48% of marketers said they expected to achieve it, versus 46% who said they achieved it) and increased ROI (26% versus 24%), there was a wide variance between expectations and results in other areas.

Screen shot 2019-08-08 at 4.26.24 PM.png


While 47% of marketers expected to see increased productivity as a result of in-housing, for example, only 32% said this objective was achieved. And while 46% expected to see improved decision-making, only 37% said that was the outcome.

“While this may be down, at least in part, to the difficulty in measuring these areas, [it] sheds light on the importance of in-housing being seen as requiring a holistic approach,” the report says.

Marketer enthusiasm for in-housing doesn’t appear to have waned, however, with 86% of marketers currently using in-housing and planning to continue in the future. The report says that a “wide range” of marketing functions have or are currently being in-housed, an average of six per company.

Limited budget is the most commonly cited challenge when it comes to creating an in-house marketing function (cited by 41% of respondents), followed by adopting new technology at 35%.

Additional challenges cited include performance being negatively impacted in the short-term; attracting required specialist talent; managing information sharing and decision-making within new team structures; and a general lack of strategy.

Asked about their apprehensions around implementing an in-house strategy, 37% said they feared it would result in no outside perspectives, while the same number also worried about too many people being involved with no clear process in place. Other concerns included internal deadlines being easily pushed back, a lack of questioning around proposed campaigns and poor collaboration resulting from a larger team.

Screen shot 2019-08-08 at 5.29.57 PM.png

The report stressed that growing interest in bringing some aspects of the marketing function in-house doesn’t suggest that the traditional client-agency relationship is in jeopardy.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents indicated they are still seeking agencies or service providers capable of helping with “creative and design,” while 41% cited “CRM and experience management,” 39% said “content and copywriting” and 37% said “search engine optimization.”

Among organizations reporting an interest in in-housing, 13% indicated that their future spend on agencies would decrease, although 65% said they expected their spend to remain the same and 22% said they expected it to increase.

The report concluded that in-housing represents a “tangible shift” in how marketers believe their activities should be executed, but that it “still has a way to go” when it comes to helping companies achieve their desired results.

“The act of bringing a marketing function in-house must be supported with the right tools to support a new team structure,” it said. “Technology will be key to bridging communication gaps and ensuring that organizations can actually see the full benefits of investing in bringing everything under one roof.”

Chris Powell