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Reasons Why Brands Are InHousing (The Six Cs)

InHousing is such a hot topic at the moment (and we’re not just saying this because of the launch of InHouse). Every brand we’re in conversation with is talking about this internally – their HR and digital leaders are coming together to work out how they can bring their digital marketing InHouse.

So why is it such a popular trend? In short, brands are realising that bringing some or all of their marketing InHouse can be more effective than outsourcing to an agency.

As with most trends, it’s taken a couple of key players – the likes of Unilever, Sky and Lego – to conduct their own successful trials. Gideon Spanier of Campaign Live has consistently published interesting articles on these positive results and things have spiralled out from there.

And while InHousing gathers pace, brands are seeing more interweaving benefits. So much so, that we’ve created our top six reasons to InHouse (which all conveniently and completely coincidentally begin with the letter C – honest). We’ll expand on each point separately in further articles – for now, here’s an overview:


The general consensus is that this current wave of InHousing stemmed from brands not having control over their ad buying/paid media/programmatic output. In a Campaign Live interview, Accenture Interactive’s Amir Malik notes that there has been billions of dollars spent on ad placements that were never seen by a consumer.

On top of that, sharing data with agencies in this post-GDPR world could cause some controversy – nobody wants to be the next Cambridge Analytica now, do they?   


In a recent survey conducted by Digiday and Bannerflow, 87% of brands agreed to being concerned with the transparency of media agencies. Well, you would be if substantial budgets are being wasted on what is effectively non-existent advertising.


While the InHouse trend may have started with media planning, the Association of National Advertisers (USA) have reported that there have also been large spikes in other speciality services being brought InHouse, such as Content Marketing, Data Analytics, and Video Production. Having everything in one place helps to deliver consistency.

It begs the question, will some brands insource all of their digital marketing in the future?


While cost is an important factor to consider, InHousing shouldn’t be the vehicle that facilitates a race to the bottom. Quality first, right?

That said, Unilever have reported global savings of over $500m in their first full year of extensive InHousing. They believe that it works for them because their agency teams can work in a more agile way with their marketing teams – they can produce better quality work, at a faster pace and play to the marketers’ priorities. Which brings us onto our next point…


Unilever have reported that bringing their operations InHouse has led them to become more efficient and productive. You’d like to think that internal teams are more likely to buy into the brand. If it’s something they care about and understand, then you’d expect better results.


Without repeating what we’ve already mentioned regarding transparency, InHousing will provide marketing teams with data and metrics to make informed long-term decisions. For media buying in particular, by removing the agency layer, it gives the brand more opportunity to understand ad spend and performance.  


Ok, so it appears as though there’s actually a seventh C, because it’s not all rosy when it comes to InHousing.

In the Bannerflow report, they note that a lack of internal skills and resources are the biggest concerns for brands InHousing from an agency.  Obviously, you have to first find the talent – something that’s not entirely straightforward if you believe reports of a global talent crunch.

Not having the right readily available talent can put brands off. In fact, Digiday recently reported that Vodafone is reconsidering InHousing their programmatic ad buying.

What about external agencies?

The one thing that possibly can’t be replicated InHouse is the creative freshness that external knowledge brings. Digital agencies must innovate to compete and so they can bring something to the table – mostly in the form of a strategic partnership. Even with the success of their InHousing experiment, Unilever has said that they still ‘really value those external relationships’.

The main thing to consider is that InHousing is still in its infancy and so things will evolve. There are some that believe it’s just a passing phase, but it’s likely that a hybrid model is the future, and brands may need assistance from agencies to move InHouse.