The Missed Opportunity At In-House Agencies

Forrester and the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) are out with an intriguing new report based on a joint survey that finds in-house shops, while growing in number (64% of corporations now have them) are overworked, under-resourced and under-appreciated.

And CMOs are complicit, the study asserts.

Part of the problem, per the report is that CMOs often view the in-house shop as a low-cost, efficient alternative to external agencies. That’s misleading: client-friendly chargeback models and blended rates (with external shops) often mask the true costs of in-house agencies.

And thinking of in-house as a cost saver misses the bigger point, preventing marketers from leveraging their potential benefit as a “strategic resource to improve control, transparency, and marketing operations,” per the report. Not to mention being a potential wellspring of truly great creative ideas.

According to the study too many marketers view in-house operations and external agencies through the misguided lens of competition. To maximize results collaboration should bind the efforts of both. “CMOs must identify the strengths of all their partners and carve out specific remits for strategy and execution responsibilities to ensure they replace competition with coordination.”



The report recommends a blended agency model that interweaves key capabilities across creative, digital and media between in-house and external agencies. One example cited in the report: In-house agency Prudential Advertising and Droga5, which collaborated on financial services’ company’s “Bring Your Challenges” campaign.

Droga5 came up with the idea and the in-house shop aggressively championed it internally and leveraged it to help transform corporate strategy. “We refer to ourselves as co-agencies,” Droga5 executive creative director Kevin Brady says in the report. “We have our own area where we play but also switch back and forth pretty fluidly.”

Yeah, collaboration, everybody playing nice in the sandbox together seems to be a thing in marketing and advertising now. And it makes a lot of sense, versus everyone protecting their own P&Ls come hell or high water, doesn’t it?

Anyway, you can access the full report here for a price. Or maybe you know someone at Forrester who will slip it to you on the sly.


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