Most CMOs plan to in-house digital, but it’s not a death knell for agencies

41% of chief marketing officers anticipate an increase in the work they do with agencies

58% of chief marketing officers have said they are likely to bring more digital and programmatic capabilities in-house within the next two to three years, however they also believe there’s still a role for agencies to play.

According Dentsu Aegis’ annual CMO Study, 92% of senior marketers intend to maintain or increase their internal digital prowess. The trend is most pronounced across the energy, tech and telecoms sectors, with a respective 69%, 67% and 64% saying they planned to explore in-housing within three years.

However, although marketers have clear intent to follow in the footsteps of brands like Vodafone and Auto Trader in clawing back control of their media spend amid transparency concerns, it’s not a death knell for agencies.

The same report found that 41% of chief marketing officers anticipate an increase in the work they do with agency partners. Only 6% expect to do less. Marketers’ intentions to use management consultancies – which have emerged as competition to traditional ad giants in recent years – matched precisely with these figures.

Despite it looking like agencies will retain a place on marketers’ balance sheet, those in control of the purse strings paint a complex picture of their relationships with agencies.

Less than half (43%) of chief marketing officers agree that agencies do a good job of providing fully integrated solutions. Only 36% believe agencies are ‘good’ collaborators when it comes to driving long-term executions.

Brands perceive agencies’ core strengths as offering consumer insight, bringing creativity to the table and giving access to talent.

“Much has been made of the changing marketing landscape and potential risks for agencies. In the end though, it’s not the scale of these investments that matters, but what marketers do with them. That creates a huge opportunity for agencies, and this data reflects how we are meeting that need,” said Will Swayne, global president client solutions at Dentsu Aegis Network.

Dentsu’s survey questioned 1,000 chief marketing officers across ten markets (including the UK, US, China and Australia).

Here are the other top findings you need to know:

As well as in-housing, brands are buying direct

Marketers plan to invest more platforms like Salesforce, Adobe and Google in the next two to three years.

50% of chief marketing officers say they will increase the amount they invest directly with ad-tech partners like Facebook, Google and WeChat, with just 7% not intending to move towards more direct spend.

Short-termism isn’t going anywhere

Despite the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) warning that short-termism and budget cuts are slicing the success of creative campaigns in half, it doesn’t look like the trend is going anywhere.

With sluggish market growth and the rise of adtech fuelling a demand for measurable ROI and optimisation, 64% of marketers expect to see “more pressure” to demonstrate tangible results in the next two to three years.

In addition to this, almost half of those surveyed say their marketing surveys plan ahead for two years or less, compounding a lack of long-term thinking.

Marketers are worried about keeping up with customers

Rising consumer demands remain a major focus for chief marketing officers, with 44% concerned that expectations may reach a point where brands will struggle to deliver.

Three quarters identify better internal integration as a critical element in successful customer engagement and 40% cite their own lack of integration as a challenge in delivering on current strategy. 28% identify a lack of integration from their agency as an issue.

On top of this, 79% believe they must transform, not just optimise, their businesses through digital technologies to keep up with the people who buy their products.

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