Why are marketers moving their advertising business in house?

Article from the Drum

Moving advertising in-house


The UK’s leading brand-side marketers are increasingly unhappy with their agencies over their ability to handle the growing demands of cross-screen campaign management, as ad tech issues increasingly occupy their minds, and some even threaten to take their search and CRM acitivities in-house.

Widespread discontent among the ISBA membership was aired recently when the trade body, frequently reffered to as the voice of British advertisers, hosted an event where attendants were encouraged to share both best practices, and concerns, over the growing role of ad tech.

Here the trade body’s members were encouraged to candidly share experiences with peers with those present explaining that some of those present explained they felt “despondent” with their agency’s performance.

Many had expressed an interest in bringing online marketing functions such as search and CRM in-house – a tactic that many industry observers state will help them co-ordinate their campaign activity across screens.

“One of the questions many people where asking is: ‘how do you make it work if you are to bring all of this in-house?’,” recounted one source present.

However, the same meeting also demonstrated that those marketers eager to increase the scale of how they use automated media buying technologies are often hindered by a lack of understanding over the benefit of employing such technologies among their wider organisation.

Simply put, the complexity (including the jargon that has grown up in the sector) as well as the upfront costs associated with of the technology mean advertisers are currently often reluctant to agree to implement the technology.

Paid-for search advertising still counts as the single-largest digital ad unit in the UK, with over £2bn spent on the ad formats in the fist half of this year, according to the latest IAb figures.

The emergence of automated media buying technologies has prompted widespread discussion over whether or not they can equip brands to handle their  media buyingactivity independent of their media agencies.

However, such discussions were also had last decade when search advertising began to form a major part of advertisers’ digital strategy, with long-time industry observers claiming that many of those brands that did so later regretted it.

Experience Digital by Mike Kent

Marketers should be ‘customer experience designers’

The role of a marketer should be redubbed a “customer experience designer”, according to Merlin Entertainment’s group marketing director, Emma Woods, who said the ability to deliver good consumer experiences is even harder in a tech-driven world where things can easily go wrong.

Woods, speaking at Experian’s client summit in London today (30th September), said that the window for delivering customer experiences is narrowing and the correct use of data is ever more important.

“The world of marketing is changing and we have to think about ourselves as customer experience designers,” she said. “Part of that design responsibility is also being guardians for when things go wrong. The second thing is that… in the future your customer data will inform that customer experience and my challenge to marketers is that you have a responsibility to collect it, use it and nurture it.”

A recent step to improve the various customer touch points at Merlin Entertainment – owner of Legoland, Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds – is the release of a new Legoland app which directs visitors to attractions with fewer queues, the nearest restaurant and delivers real-time information about queuing time.

Since its roll out in July Woods, who was brought on board in 2013 to broaden the digital journey of the company’s 55 million guests, said that 15 per cent of visitors have downloaded the app and reported a less stressful experience, particularly on extremely busy days.

“We need to be meticulous about understanding all the customer touch points and thinking about what is the experience that the customer wants and how can we facilitate that through great service or technology?” She added.

Also speaking was Jon Wilkins, executive chairman at Karmarama, who lamented the advent of data companies which he said have caused a “problematic” relationship with creativity, which he likened to a “straight jacket”. He used the example of Netflix-created House of Cards where at a data conference the streaming site’s chief executive Reed Hastings told producer David Fincher that he should consider a data insight for future shows that showed a certain point where viewers switched off.

“His response was ‘never tell me that again’ and that’s a standard discussion between data and creativity,” said Wilkins.

To ease the friction creativity should be “tech driven rather than tech led”, an idea that connects with the role of data and how it can inspire creativity.

Experience Digital by Mike Kent