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Survey shows decline in brands' desire to 'in-house'

The number of brands planning to take their digital activity in-house has halved over the last 12 months, this is despite several high-profile controversies over transparency played out in the media over the last year.

A report from trade body SoDA shows the amount of brands looking to "take digital in-house" has dropped from 27 per cent a year ago, to 13 per cent in 2016. Rather, instead of consolidation in terms of agency rosters, SoDA’s Global Digital Outlook Survey found the number of agencies claiming to work with three or more digital shops grew to 42 per cent.

The poll, which surveyed 629 marketers collectively controlling in excess of $6bn in media budgets, was conducted alongside Forrester Research, and found that 'market research' was the most highly valued service offered by agencies, according to the results.

Meanwhile, 'marketing creativity' and 'strategic leadership' were the two least valued services provided by agencies, with the results suggesting that marketers are increasingly ad agencies’ roles as that campaign execution, as opposed to a provider of ‘big ideas’, etc.

In addition, 55 per cent of respondents expect to increase their digital spend over the next 12 months, while only 11 forecast a fall, during the same period. The destination of the new budget has also changed, with 'digital experiences' (such as, websites, mobile web) the top priority for 82 per cent of respondents.

Chris Buettner, editor of The SoDA Report, said: “There’s a positive outlook for agencies and clients and alike. With an eight-point increase in the number of marketers predicting spend increases, a trend toward digital agency specialisation (despite recent media reports suggesting large-scale agency consolidation), and an acute need for innovation on the client side that is leading to more marketer-agency collaboration, the future is bright for forward-thinking digital shops.”

He added: “However, agencies still have a long way to go to align with clients around issues such as client priorities, causal factors involved in client-agency ‘break-ups’, and what needs to be done to improve lackluster client satisfaction levels.”

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