In-house Agency Models Survey

68% of APAC marketers to take media investment capability in-house


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

December 1, 2021 | 4 min read

Amid the massive digital shift, marketers’ expectations from their agencies have been going overwhelming change. As per the recent research findings unveiled by global digital services provider Kepler, brands are changing their media investment models and relationships with agencies in the age of tech platforms. The study was conducted among marketers from the US, UK and APAC.

Changing face of the marketer-agency relationship

How is the marketer-agency relationship changing?

In-housing is the future

  • Media investment talent and technology is rising to the top of the APAC marketing agenda as the single largest shift.

  • 94% of APAC marketers said they are ‘currently or planning to enhance in-house technology when it comes to media investment’ compared to 78% of respondents in the US and 82% in the UK.

  • More than two-thirds of APAC marketers (71%) said they are already using or planning to use a mixture of in-house media technology and talent, as well as external agency support.

  • The trend is toward in-housing in various forms and shapes, for example not just in-housing media technology but even extending to brands taking all of their media investment operations in-house.

  • Among APAC marketers, 68% said they plan to eventually take all aspects of media investment capability in-house. This number was lower in comparison to other markets – 45% among US marketers and 52% in the UK.

  • Nearly two-thirds of APAC marketers (61%) said their media agency partners could improve on ‘sharing learnings and consulting with our in-house teams,’ compared to 43% in the US and 42% in the UK.

Trust and transparency a big deal in APAC

  • APAC marketers are more concerned with trust and transparency issues than counterparts in the US and UK, with overall three-quarters of senior marketers holding forth that ‘trust and transparency have become a major factor in media investment decision making,’ compared to 84% in APAC.

  • Corporate ethics is firmly on the agenda, with many marketers observing keenly how this might affect their media investment decision making. 65% of APAC marketers thought that ‘our corporate ethics will increasingly influence how and with whom we invest digital budgets,’ which interestingly compared to 51% overall.

  • Half of the marketers agreed that ‘we will not use media agencies that cannot provide complete transparency of trading practices,’ compared with 65% in APAC.

Data capability will decide new face of agencies

  • There have been major shifts in the agency business and brands are now redefining the role of the media agency. Data capability is becoming more important than the media buying scale.

  • The majority of senior marketers are gravitating toward data optimization rather than media buying clout as the most important criterion determining media investment performance.

  • As per the study, a sizable 81% overall (81% APAC) agree automation will reduce the importance of agency network scale and traditional buying power.

  • Traditional media agencies are coming under duress and 65% overall (55% APAC) believe that these agencies do not have the technical expertise their organization requires to maximize media investment.

  • 60% overall (42% APAC) said that they struggle to find agencies that can support their in-housing strategies.

Expert speaks

  • Andy Cocker, chief operating officer UK and APAC, Kepler, said: “The changing requirements of brands in response to the rapid evolution of media and technology are shaping the future of the agencies.”

  • Interestingly, most new engagements with brands in the region now involve a hybrid operating model where the teams support and augment in-house digital media teams and technology stacks. Cocker added: “We see this hybrid model continuing to grow in popularity as brands seek to take back control of proprietary data and the competitive advantage it drives.”

In-house Agency Models Survey

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