Brands have traditionally relied on external agencies to manage their entire advertising activities, and up until recently this has completely made sense. But nowadays digital advertising is more targeted and data-driven, and the most important lever is a detailed knowledge of the audience. Brands are looking to bring their advertising in-house because this is where that IP lies. The logic of this trend is sound, at least in theory. But the reality is that advertising management is a serious undertaking, and the transition to agency independence is far from simple.
To a large extent, the rise of Demand-side platforms (DSPs) together with Data Management Platforms (DMPs) has been a catalyst to brands taking full control of elements of their marketing management. This is allowing brands to build up audience intelligence in-house, but it is also helping them secure this information in the context of evolving privacy regulation. Using DSPs, marketers have access to vast amounts of integrated and consolidated data, which can be used to target advertising more strategically. This intelligence can also help marketing teams make better sense of their campaigns’ performance, putting them in a better position to adjust and optimise over time.
Indeed, digital platforms are adding a layer of transparency to advertising management that has historically been lacking. This is one of the main motivations for clients deciding to adopt Adobe Advertising Cloud. The overview provided by the platform helps brands take a more aligned and targeted approach and allows them to more accurately calculate ROI across their overall spend.
Technology alone is not the answer, of course. Brands need to re-skill to take advantage of their investment. We have already seen several instances of companies poaching managers direct from their agencies to grow a team internally. Some, like Uber, are busily building up their own internal teams to rival external agencies. Others are upskilling their existing staff to take on these competencies. The approach will vary by company, but internal upskilling should be part of any in-housing plan, as your employees are best placed to understand your business and its broader goals.
Adjusting to a digital advertising mind-set also involves a cultural shift. Australian-based real estate group REA decided to automate their paid search bidding, which in turn helped them to respond more quickly to changing market conditions. But this required REA’s employees to be more flexible and agile, and to constantly question themselves in the interest of improvement. A greater level of data intelligence is a major advantage, but only by adopting the right attitude can brands fully benefit.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that brands completely do away with agencies and partners. Brands do have an interest in owning direct relationship with their technology and inventory partners, however agencies and partners will always have a lot of value to bring to the table talent-wise. They will continue to play a role in setting the standard in planning, buying, optimising and analysing media, as well as offering best practices for brands to aspire to. It’s up to a brand to develop the model that works best for them – completely in-housed, completely outsourced, or a hybrid of both. The most important thing is to maintain control and accountability for their advertising strategies and how progress is reported back to their business.
One things for sure – the good old days of completely outsourcing advertising to third parties are a thing of the past. Brands need to shift their advertising expertise to where their audience intelligence is, and in many cases this means bringing it in-house. For more information on Adobe Advertising Cloud and DSPs, check out our website.