Marketers are Turning Inward, Making Specialists More Important Than Ever

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Marketers and brands are increasingly more concerned about transparency, speed-to-market and data integrity, forcing them to reconsider their existing marketing and media structures and looking towards insourcing for their needs. As major marketers grapple with the effects of fraud and high ad-tech costs on their media budgets, their trust in traditional media agencies is on a sharp decline. Internal solutions have emerged to fill the void, especially in digital and programmatic disciplines, leading to an opportunity for specialists to shine.

Insourcing is changing the marketing and advertising landscape

Late last year, the Association of National Advertisers reported that 35 percent of marketers have already brought programmatic media buying in-house, a sizable increase from the 14 percent reported in 2016. And, all indications point to the trend of insourcing across the industry having lasting consequences. Another example of this trend is P&G looking to cut $400 million from their agency and production costs, a budget that has slashed by more than $750 million in the past three years. While P&G is likely to continue increasing ad spend, they are creating efficiencies through their internal media teams. Further internalization of agency operations is likely, as CFO Jon Moeller has said, “We’ll automate more media planning, production and distribution, bringing more of it in-house.”

Specialists are emerging as brands’ most capable partners

According to a recent study called The Future of Agency Rosters, by the WFA and The Observatory International, while nearly 60% of the marketers polled said they were looking to reduce the numbers of agencies on their roster over time, more than half said they intended to add specialist shops.

What this means is in-house media solutions seem to be achieving the desired results of increased speed-to-market, pricing efficiency, data integrity and transparency, but traditional support agencies are reacting slowly. Conversely, specialists are already well-positioned to support internal media and marketing teams and are quickly emerging as the most capable to adapt to this in-source trend. Specialists routinely take on project work profitably, collaborate extensively with internal and external actors, and offer competitive insights and support in areas that are still difficult to resource internally.

Overcoming the hurdles to bringing in specialists

Implementing a robust specialist strategy has its own set of hurdles, and the biggest is figuring out how to connect brands and specialists. Independent agencies and specialist agencies generally lack a penetrating voice and don’t often find themselves invited to full-service pitches. Of the $25 billion in media estimated to have been reviewed in 2016, a mere $2 billion, or 8%, went to independent media agencies. Specialists are routinely bypassed by pitch consultants who default to full-service, typically holding company, bundled solutions rather than draw upon the best resources to create a service offering built around a client’s specific needs.

Of the $25 billion in media estimated to have been reviewed in 2016, a mere $2 billion, or 8%, went to independent media agencies.

As marketers continue to insource media services, consultants must understand the specialist marketplace and the extraordinary resources it offers to amplify in-house media teams while providing service, flexibility and value unmatched by the large holding companies.

Creating your perfect media team

The best media teams now are created, not sold as a single solution. It begins with brand leadership who understand the need to bring the best minds and services together to solve their complex marketing challenges; Who challenge their consultants or team to include specialists when considering marketing and media requirements. Then task them to collaborate willingly, debate vigorously and focus singularly on meeting the needs and challenges faced by the brand in today’s fragmented marketing landscape. When a brand understands this concept and how to work with and across multiple agencies and specialists, the results will amaze.

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