The State of In-housing 2021: A strange and extraordinary year
4 min read

The State of In-housing 2021: A strange and extraordinary year

2020 proved to be an extraordinary year for brands and the world alike – mainly for all the wrong reasons. However, like its people, European marketing remains resilient, with teams and brands adjusting, and in some cases flourishing under their new locked-down reality.

This year’s State of In-housing 2021 report from Bannerflow and Digiday, surveys over 200 senior marketers across Europe, at a pivotal moment in time. It charts the continued growth of in-housing, changing team structures, key enabling technologies – and the impact the pandemic has had on both in-house and traditional teams.

Indeed, in-housing marketing functions, and the agility to turn and pivot at the slightest moment, has never been more important. And it is no surprise that in-housing remains a popular choice for brands with almost three-quarters (73%) having moved at least part of their digital marketing in-house.

This year highlights within the report include:

  1. The pandemic’s effect on creativity
  2. How technology is impacting in-housing success
  3. How in-house teams are growing – along with ROI
  4. Why in-house marketing remains essential

The state of in-housing 2021 launch blog header

1. The pandemic’s effect on creativity: 58% of in-house teams report an increase in creativity during the pandemic

Perhaps one of the most astonishing aspects of in-housing this year has been the continued increase in creativity levels within in-house teams. More than half of all marketers surveyed report creativity within their teams as having increased during the pandemic. And only 8% reported a decline in team creativity.

Indeed, here at Bannerflow – anecdotally, at least – we have come across a number of in-house teams who due to the pandemic are being more creative with their internal resources. Today, in-house marketing teams are not just working smarter but reacting to changing circumstances and are having to launch new campaigns in hours.

Creativity is key

Success or failure is very real in 2021, and just like in 2020’s report, creativity remains a key commodity. For example, we have discovered that two thirds of in-house marketing teams have either introduced or increased creative workshops.

In fact cross team collaboration is up according to 65% of marketers too. Undoubtedly creativity is seen as a key asset in overcoming the challenges presented by the pandemic. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits and connections between creativity and in-housing.



2. How technology is impacting in-housing success: 54% of marketers are benefiting from greater collaboration

Connected to increases in creativity, is the value in-house teams are gaining from embracing different technologies. In previous years, marketing technology has been viewed as a key enabler of in-housing and 2021’s report enforces that. In fact, this year over half of all the marketing teams surveyed admit to benefiting from technology.

Not just that but improvements in production efficiency and simply using data in a better way are noted as having positive impacts across in-house teams. Indeed, the shift to remote working has seen the use of cloud-based software, such as CMPs, rise.

Taking control of data

Fascinatingly, 58% of marketers report that one impact of using technology is that they are now using more data than ever before. And with brands having to adapt messages within hours due to changing pandemic legislation, or provide the right offer, across a much broader range of customers – having instant access to as much transparent data as possible is essential.

However, not everything is rosey in regards to brands and having the right setups. For those brands who have found in-house creativity difficult, 44% perceive the main barrier to being successful as a lack of technology. Therefore, while many brands appear to benefit from the right in-house tech stack, it is clear that others do not. Getting digital transformation right, appears a key consideration when moving in-house.



3. How in-house teams are growing – along with ROI: 63% of report a positive change in ROI since in-housing

Once again, this year’s report has found that in-house teams are more able to maximise their bang for buck. In fact two-thirds of brands report a positive return on investment (ROI) from in-housing. A stat during these testing times that can not be easily dismissed.

Additionally, brands who have made the move to an in-house setup are seeing numerous benefits across marketing functions. As a result, businesses are developing and growing their in-house teams, despite the challenges of 2020.

No one size fits all

In fact, many in-housing 2021 brands have boosted headcount in the past year. According to our report, 63% of senior marketers have increased the size of their in-housing teams over the last 12 months. Yet, like previous years – all is not quite as it seems.

There is now a whole spectrum of different in-housing setups. These setups range from full in-house agencies to more traditional models, where marketing teams work closely with external agencies. However, it is the hybrid model that this year appears to be gaining traction, with its mix of the best of in-house and its use of specialised agencies. And you can read more about this topic in the report.



4. Why in-house marketing remains essential: 62% of respondents say in-housing enables efficient remote working

Without question, this year’s report provides a clear answer to the question as to whether in-housing is a passing trend or not. It’s here to stay – and it looks set to be a key part of business strategy in 2021, and beyond.

Indeed, as businesses face the prospect of more remote working in 2021, an in-house marketing setup appears one of the best ways to boost team collaboration. In fact, 62% of respondents say in-housing enables more efficient remote working; which given the circumstances many teams will find themselves under will prove invaluable.

The business case for in-housing

In-house marketing teams are also benefiting from upskilling staff. When speaking to us 66% of senior marketers report their teams have gained more internal skills since moving in-house. Not only does this enable brands to develop a much more versatile workforce but it is cost saving too. 58% of marketers report savings on external agency costs.

Finally, Johann Querne, Global Director of Growth Marketing at Twitter, offers a solid piece of advice for teams starting their in-house journey; he believes there is a balance to be found when in-housing: “There’s definitely a question of timing, a question of maturity and a question of commitment, because finding the right partners can be pretty expensive”. Indeed, the benefits are clear but making sure you select the right type of in-house model for your brand, and where you stand in your maturity journey, is essential for future success.

Read the full State of In-housing 2021 report now

2021 promises to be an extraordinary year in its own right. And judging from our survey, and interviews from brands at the forefront of European in-house marketing, in-housing looks set to have a key role to play for many organisations going forward. Additionally, the creativity and resilience offered by in-house working may offer many businesses a way of ensuring future success during these testing times.

However, big changes do not come without challenges. Knowing the biggest perceived barriers to in-housing and how to overcome them is crucial. Read the report now to learn how leading brands, such as Vodafone, TikTok, and Telefónica were able to go about committing to the digital transformation of their marketing operations.

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