ANA Highlights In-House Agency Growth, Concerns

The Association of National Advertisers is out with a new report that finds 78% of its members have an in-house agency. That’s up from 58% in 2013 and 42% in 2008.

Over 90% of in-house agencies work on digital creative projects and 85% handle strategy-related assignments. Just over 80% handle creative chores and about one-third handle media planning and buying assignments.

In a survey, the two biggest concerns about in-house agencies reported by ANA members are keeping talent energized (63%) and attracting top-tier talent in the first place (44%). No big surprise here — that’s been the rap against such agencies forever.

The reason: creative hot shots keep it fresh by working on multiple and varied accounts simultaneously, while working on a single brand or category gets a bit stale after a while. At least, that’s the perception.

And it’s a perception supported by qualitative interviews included in the new ANA report. It quotes an anonymous marketing director as saying mid-level agency executives are “well compensated, so going in-house often requires taking a lower salary and dealing with the monotony of company life where you focus on fewer things.”



Who would do that?  Answer: Probably not top-tier talent.

Unless, of course, they get tired of the crazy hours that are part and parcel of agency life. Or get sick of dealing with a multitude of problems thrown at them by a bunch of pesky clients, each of which thinks the world revolves around them.  

The report offers strategies for attracting top talent, like accentuating positive features such as job security and saner hours. There are also suggestions for keeping things fresh by having creatives work on different brands and categories if that’s an option.

The report — a joint effort of the ANA, its legal counsel Reed Smith and Boston Consulting Group — also covers legal concerns although as it notes, such concerns “did not arise to the same level of concern as creative content issues.”

In addition to the qualitative interviews with ANA members and industry experts conducted in first quarter, a quantitative survey of ANA members was fielded in March. There were 111 survey respondents with in-house agencies of various sizes and budgets.

Some 40% of respondents have in-house staffs of 25 people or less, while a little over one-third reported staff counts of between 26 and 100 people. Nearly one-quarter said their agencies had more than 100 people. About half had budgets (staff and expenses) of less than $5 million, and half had budgets of $5 million or more.

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