Digiday Research: What brands find most difficult to take in-house

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Programmatic ad buying is the most difficult function to take in-house.

In a survey of 47 brand marketers by Digiday, 75% of marketers said taking programmatic ad buying in-house was difficult. The level of difficulty varied by answer as 21% said it was very difficult, 31% said it was difficult and 23% said it was somewhat difficult.

Marketers were asked to rank the level of difficulty of in-housing marketing functions — brand strategy, creative production, media planning and strategy, programmatic ad buying, traditional ad buying, search, public relations and social media — from very difficult to not difficult at all. While programmatic ad buying ranked as the most difficult to move in-house, the marketers surveyed also named traditional media buying, creative production and search among the hardest to take in-house.

That programmatic ad buying gives marketers the most trouble when it comes to in-housing makes sense. Not only does it require building out a technology stack, but it also requires attracting programmatic trading talent to go from working on myriad brands to one. Courting that talent tends to be trickier than other marketing functions when it comes to building out in-house teams. Not only that, but some brands don’t even fully realize the need for a staff to take programmatic in-house. “Some have been led to believe that you don’t need full-time staff to do trading, that you can just set it and forget it based on the signals that you see that drive conversion,” Omnicom Media Group CEO Scott Hagedorn previously told Digiday.

That said, it’s easy to see why marketers are considering it as it can have the potential cut costs in ways that can help marketers spend more efficiently and grow their budgets. As previously reported by Digiday, Bayer saved at least $10 million when it moved its programmatic ad buying in-house.

On the other end of the spectrum, brand strategy and social media are the simplest to run in-house. In recent years, as social media channels have grown in importance and the response window has shortened a number of brands have taken control of their social accounts and the spending there simply out of necessity. For example, Anheuser-Busch plans to use its in-house team Draftline to tackle the lion’s share of the social work needed for its hard seltzer brand Bon & Viv’s NFL sponsorship this fall. “When you think about branded content, you’re producing months in advance of when you’re actually going to be running it,” Chelsea Phillips, vp of Beyond Beer brands at Anheuser-Busch, previously told Digiday. “In this case, with what we can do with social and digital environments and Draftline’s capabilities, we can respond very quickly with new creative to current events that are happening in the sport.”


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