Marketers threaten to bring media work in-house

 
Will Railton
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AS MARKETING departments look for bang in every buck they spend, the relationship with brands and media agencies is set to change.

A survey by MediaSense, ISBA and IPSOS Connect has shown that 60 per cent of brands anticipate moving their content development in-house, or going to alternative agencies, before 2020. So why are agencies coming under fire?

It has a lot to do with data. The report reveals that 67 per cent of marketers think data analytics and insight will be “critical to success” over the next five years. “They believe they can create faster, more dynamic content in-house because they are closer to their customer,” says Debbie Morrison, director of consultancy at ISBA. Brands are waking up to the idea that their own marketers are better placed to respond to social media developments happening in real-time.

Before now, creative agencies have tended to focus on big paid placements for analogue media like television and trade media campaigns, Morrison explains. “But marketers have found these processes neither agile nor cost-effective enough for the purposes of the creation of real-time dynamic content.”

Traditionally, creative agencies have been divorced from the implementation side of a campaign. “It’s not that agencies aren’t pulling their weight, but they’re not adapting quickly enough to their clients’ needs,” says Graham Brown, director and founder of MediaSense. “But shaping creative around data will require an overhaul of their modus operandi, and that will prove expensive.”

Indeed, while 90 per cent of those surveyed said they would keep going to media agencies for paid media, 73 per cent of marketers say they will “increasingly contract directly with media owners and technology companies by 2020.”

The threat of disintemediation means that agency remuneration models will be scrutinised more and more. As agencies are urged to adapt content around the whole tail of implementation, Morrison and Brown acknowledge that agencies will need to have more skin in the game. Just as data informs marketers about consumers’ paths to purchase, it can be used to make media agencies more accountable over the course of a campaign’s implementation. Business outcomes will become a widely accepted key performance indicator, and project-based briefs will replace the inefficient, long-term relationships between agencies and clients, thinks Brown.

“We have been used to media being slashed and burnt by procurement. It will be interesting when media is no longer considered an expense, and becomes a cost-of-sale.”

William Railton is business features writer at City A.M.

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