The phenomenon of in-house agencies (IHAs), where brands bring the creative skills in-house has been a trend over the past decade. According to the  IHAF 2018 State-of-the-Industry Report, 64% of corporations have an in-house agency—an increase of 52% from a decade ago. The three major reasons that governed this change are creative control, cost savings and speed to market.  

Today priorities still remain the same, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a rise in the demand to produce more marketing and comms content as well as digital work at a faster pace. With the spiralling channels available to marketers, it is not surprising that workloads are increasing and IHA staff often speak about being overworked! As well as the ideation and strategy time involved before a campaign can go live, there’s the creation, development, production and optimisation of campaigns, not forgetting the management and performance tracking required, too. That’s a lot of work for an IHA to cope with, on top of their regular tasks. As a result, the in-house strategy needs to be optimised to provide scalability and flexibility.

Hybrid working

Nowadays, the new strategy discovered and implemented by global brands is the hybrid approach of working with both in-house and external teams

Offshore creative production to the rescue! 

According to the  IHAF 2018 State-of-the-Industry Report, 67% of IHAs are not adequately staffed to carry out mass creative production and distribution. The existence of external agencies, or off-shore creative production teams, play a crucial role. Their expertise lies in execution at scale according to the latest creative industry standards. According to The InHouse Agency Forum (IHAF) 85% of IHAs outsource to external providers. 

How to decide what projects to outsource?

Deciding what projects to outsource is always easier said than done! It is time to think about what production work can be outsourced to generate more value for the business and free-up time for the in-house team? It is also important for the IHA to understand what they do best. Some internal creative agencies do all the strategic planning and ideation of a campaign and outsource the execution work, which requires a special skill set.

Easy to outsource projects include:

  • Cross-media creative adaptations: If you’ve got an idea for a campaign but lack the resources to execute it across print, digital and video then go for the collaborative outsourcing model. The IHA creates the master artwork and the external partner manages the adaptations across multiple channels.
  • Campaign localisation & translation: For global brands, it is important to localise campaigns for target geographies. External production partners can support IHAs with translation and localisation of existing campaigns. This helps keep the creative idea intact while personalising content for the target audience in a cost-efficient way.
  • Rebranding: A rebrand can be difficult to execute in the face of challenging internal priorities. Outsourcing production in a rebrand can free-up time, save money and help IHAs to achieve their launch deadline.
  • Seasonal peaks: All organisations have peak periods and it is here that IHAs can  leverage the help of external partners. With knowledge transfer and collaboration, external and in-house teams work in tandem to handle peaks. It further helps the brand to scale marketing production when needed.

IHAs consist of talented individuals and therefore they should be leading creative strategy. A recent EKCS poll conducted in April showed that one-fifth of IHA leaders still felt that they were mainly a production entity, running as a centralised production team over and above being creative-led. A real value of an IHA is bringing creativity close to the brand and selective outsourcing works in the best interest of the brands and their IHAs.

Time and cost savings are two key benefits of outsourcing production work. Using off-shore partners working in different time zones can work as an advantage for a creative team when advertising campaigns are to be produced and delivered under tight deadlines. The cost issue looms large now, as Marketing Directors and CMOs are under pressure to prove the ROI on their efforts, something that hiring additional freelancers of extra staff make it difficult to achieve. By outsourcing the production support to an external agency, you don’t just cut down substantial costs of ramping up a team but also gain control and flexibility.

The hybrid approach empowers brands

In today’s marketing landscape, collaboration between internal and external agencies is vital. It allows both the parties to leverage each other’s strengths and deliver better ROI to the business.  With cost efficiency and speed more important than before,  the hybrid approach can deliver just that. However, it is best to get the model right to ensure its effectiveness! 

Since 2008, Express KCS have worked with IHAs to provide end-to-end creative production services across digital, video, print and packaging for brands, leaving IHAs to do what they do best – being creative.

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