Digiday Research: In-house marketers typically still rely on agencies

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Agencies worried about the existential threat of marketing moving internally can take a sigh of relief, at least, for the moment. Even when clients take specific marketing functions in-house, they often still rely on their agencies to help assist in those areas.

A Digiday survey this month of 73 client-side marketers who manage their company’s agency roster found that 61% of marketers doing creative production in-house will continue to work with an agency to assist with creative execution. For work like media strategy or creative strategy, roughly half of clients still worked with agencies. The picture is different with programmatic: Only 29% of marketers still had outside help for programmatic media buying and about one-fourth used agencies when they did their own search marketing.


One survey respondent said, “We’re still relying on agencies for larger-scale initiatives where we can clearly identify their contributions as high-value and distinct from what we can execute in-house.”

However, when it comes to programmatic, some marketers, especially unsophisticated ones, think they’re capable of running programmatic campaigns without agency help.

“Programmatic is easy to do, but not easy to do well. We’ll see clients conduct programmatic media buys, which can be straightforward, but the client won’t realize what they’re missing out on when it comes to measurement or targeting,” said Kevin Buerger, president of JellyFish Dynamix, an agency service that helps marketers learn to buy media programmatically. “We had one client that wanted to do sequential messaging. However, they set it up at a line-item level so you couldn’t scale audiences big enough for the campaign to work. They understood the right concepts, just not the best practices to execute the campaign.”



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