Outsourcing While In-Housing—Keep Control While Gaining Scale & Speed

According to the 2018 IHAF State-of-The-Industry Report, 67% of respondents across various industries said they don’t think their in-house agency is adequately staffed.

Similarly, in a March 2018 blog post, Forrester’s Jay Pattisall noted that while “in-house agencies are possible replacements for agency services such as media planning, buying or creative services… this fails to acknowledge the time, cost and resources to staff and scale full-service in-house agencies.”

As you dive into next year’s resource planning, you’re likely trying to figure out how to address the scale, speed and budget challenges you see looming. Many of your peers are evaluating options for external resources, such as freelancers, contract employees, going back to agencies, or even white label outsourcing.

Often, partnering with an established white label company can address some of the issues raised by hiring freelancers or adding more agencies to your roster. As California cracks down on the use of freelancers, other states may begin to follow suit so it’s important to staff carefully. And managing individual freelancers or going through an agency can still present challenges when scaling up or needing to get work done quickly.

Since you’ve created an in-house agency for a reason—often to better control both costs and your brand—looking at external partners who can lighten your load and bring specialized value while letting you maintain control is a smart strategy.

Now, what should you outsource? 

Creative Iterations. According to a 2017 report by The Creative Group, 53% of executives said it's challenging to find creative professionals. Fortunately, there are white label partners that offer highly trained creative talent who can act as an extension of your team, offering more reliable coverage than a solo freelancer. These partners can also take on time-consuming functions such as product image editing, creative versioning for different zip codes, multiple ad sizes, content for blogs and social, and more.

Media Services. Of course, media services need to be seamless. No matter how captivating the creative may be, if an ad doesn’t reach the right eyeballs, it’s just a tree falling in the forest. Today may be the era of greater control, but with the right partner, the in-house agency doesn’t have to lose that control.

While many enterprises are taking programmatic in-house by owning the technology contracts, some are still fully dependent on agencies for execution. According to The State of Programmatic Media Buying, about 35% of brands increased in-house programmatic capabilities, but many of your peers are “somewhere in the middle” of being in-housed and outsourced—mainly driven by a talent shortage. Consider a white label partner to help build, for instance, surprisingly robust offerings for programmatic media planning, buying and campaign management.

Workflow. Workfront’s 2016-2017 State of Marketing Work Report showed that marketers spend 38% of their time on primary job functions. The rest of their time is dedicated to email, meetings, administrative tasks, etc. In-house agencies will find it more effective to work with a partner that provides workflow technology as part of their engagement to seamlessly manage the ordering and fulfillment process (including creative briefs and proofing).

In-housing and outsourcing don’t have to be mutually exclusive. According to IHAF’s In-House Agencies Today, complementarity is the future—with the majority of in-house agencies, client-side marketers and external agencies all in agreement that in-house agencies increasingly complement their external partners. In the words of Humphrey Bogart, this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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