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Suzie RaflaApr 28, 20213 min read

Media In-Housing Is Back

In-housing returns but this time it’s driven by advertisers’ need to take greater control of data. Suzie Rafla, Head of Digital at ID Comms, explains

Media in-housing is rearing its head once again, with 38% of marketers looking to in-house more in 2021. But this resurgence feels different to previous waves. 

It’s more positive, more collaborative and more open, rather than being driven by concerns about transparency. Instead new challenges are driving advertisers to take greater control of media and ownership of the data that lies behind it. 

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour globally, with more time spent on digital platforms. This is increasing demand for better online experience. Never has it been more important for brands to have the right data to listen to, understand and match consumer expectations.

The shift to online has already seen an explosion in search and eCommerce globally. Even traditionally offline driven businesses, such as FMCG, have had to pivot quickly, reviewing data capabilities to drive eCommerce and D2C strategies, while embarking on more long-term digital transformation projects.

Alongside all of this change, the third-party cookie is reaching its deathknell. As a result digital advertising is entering a new era centred on first-party data. Advertisers need to prepare and future-proof their approach to data, targeting and measurement. 

These strategic challenges require nearly all advertisers to have greater in-house control and ownership, if they want to be able to leverage data for media targeting in a privacy compliant way. This will also help them generate insight in the agile manner now required to improve consumer experience. 

Transparency, the number one concern in advertiser-agency relationships three years ago, has been replaced by better targeting and business results as an in-housing driver. 

Advertisers are increasingly turning to consultancies for support with data strategy and media and marketing operating models, as well as evolving digital governance programmes beyond programmatic and supply chain transparency, to generate insight from search and ecommerce too. 

Furthermore, with data now at the heart of advertisers' agenda and consumer experience paramount, advertisers are demanding more integrated services from partners across media, sales and content. Content has a renewed focus and the role of creative has been elevated due to the upcoming limitations in targeting precision. 

The six vantage points of media performance

Successfully managing this transition to data-driven in-housing means focusing on three key areas: 

Firstly, advertisers need to develop a future-proofed data vision and strategy across media, sales and content. Assess what data you have, how it is used and where it exists. Establish what data you need, who needs to use it and for what, to be able to deliver business requirements, effective media targeting in a cookieless future, and actionable insights to improve consumer experience. 

Secondly, advertisers need to review their media and marketing operating model. Ask what are the challenges you need to solve and consider whether you are able to activate and action data and insight in an agile way across business silos to meet current and future requirements. Design the ‘TO BE’ state. What level of control and ownership do you need to be effective? What capabilities do you need to build internally (and externally)? Establish a roadmap and priorities for change.

Finally, media governance programmes need re-visiting. Have they evolved away from price and transparency only, to utilise data to improve insight, media targeting and activation and business outcomes? Are your programmes collaborative and timely, with data-driven KPIs to manage and motivate agencies? Do your programmes evolve as your priorities change? And are all channels covered, especially those that have grown in importance or have a known business challenge, such as programmatic, search and eCommerce?  

In-housing in 2021 represents a welcome opportunity for positive change. It’s a change driven by the need to solve the industry’s data and targeting challenges. Making it work requires advertisers and agencies to come together to collaboratively develop solutions. 

The result will be more sustainable in-housing and, hopefully, a brighter, simpler future.


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