Agencies need to embrace in-housing – we can’t do everything on our own
As more clients embrace in-housing, EssenceMediacomX’s Ryan Storrar argues agencies should consider a hybrid business model.
Does in-housing demand challenge traditionla agency businsses? / Unsplash
In-housing has been a growing part of brand expectations over a number of years and is the future of the work we do. In fact, the IPA’s recent report suggested that agencies must understand the shifts shaping the evolution of in-housing and adapt accordingly to ensure they continue to deliver brand growth. This is absolutely the case – while it is natural to want to demonstrate as an agency that you can do it all, the truth is the best relationships today stem from hybrid models. In fact, all of our relationships at EssenceMediacomX function this way.
If we want to be the best in the business, it’s no longer about doing it all on the agency side. It’s about convergence: identify a client problem, and use our holistic understanding of their interconnected web of customer touchpoints to create solutions that have a serious impact. Fundamentally, this means that every model must be hybrid, marrying multiple points of difference to create a cohesive view.
And it’s not just about converging internal processes – we need to apply this thinking to campaigns as well to maximize productivity and profitability: do fewer campaigns, but do them better. So what does that look like in practice?
Rather than running many (potentially fragmented) campaigns in a year with varying degrees of success, the aim should be to double down on creating always-on experiences which are meaningful for the end consumer.
From a measurement perspective, this gives agencies the opportunity to construct frameworks that connect short-term outcomes with longer-term brand building and overall customer lifetime value.
The agency model needs to adapt to this – leveraging the right insights or data from the client side to create the right benchmarks for the brand. For this to work, brand and agency need to demonstrate full transparency around data and outcome sharing and trust in the partnership.
The future of our business is increasingly around bringing together traditional and new media, creativity, data and tech. The future media landscape is cross-functional; and it needs multiple teams to be connected and take a holistic approach in order to drive breakthroughs for brands.
In fact, the experience of hybrid learning and team integration is not only great for driving best results, but it’s a rewarding and exciting endeavor for both brand and agency. Exposing both sides to new teams and ways of working builds trust and enriches existing skill sets.
This mindset translates into the campaigns themselves, which will also improve by focusing on consolidation. Instead of managing multiple campaigns with hugely different goals or executions, teams can focus on the campaigns that matter. The benefits of aggregating and consolidating campaigns include reduced media wastage, increased economy of scale, and improved measurability.
Finally, convergence enables better implementation of data and insights via machine learning or AI. Consolidating campaigns allows for the agency focus to be on adding insight and rigor into the data inputs for algorithms rather than the operational overheads that come with planning, and managing multiple campaigns.
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This is also part of a mindset change – we must learn to see AI as an enabler, automating the routine tasks and becoming more creative by the day. We must learn to see its long-term potential to help brands evolve, either through new forms of prediction or ways of looking at the world.
The IPA report is right – we have to evolve if we want to thrive. The advertising landscape is shifting, and to remain profitable, agencies need to rethink what it means to be competitive – in terms of skill sets, technology and the value they deliver for clients. By converging our specialism with that of in-house teams and focusing efforts, budget and resources on driving short-term value within the context of long-term growth, we will have a more compelling offering that allows our expertise to continue to deliver true breakthroughs for clients now and in the future.
Ryan Storrar is the chief executive officer of EssenceMediacomX