Mar 26 2019
Anthony Loredo

Agencies Should NOT Be Afraid of the Big, Bad In-Housing Trend


Centro just attended the ANA In-House Agency Conference in March—and we learned a lot. What was our main takeaway, you ask? Agencies should not be afraid of brands bringing marketing capabilities in-house. The good news is, there are still ways that agencies can work with those brands. Review the themes and findings discussed at the conference, below.

Reasons for 'in-housing'
  • Brands are creating in-house teams is to increase efficiency, foster collaboration, and generate more loyalty.
  • The money saved on agency fees can be re-invested into media and recruiting talent.
  • Most of the in-house models we’ve seen are a hybrid of some kind, where some (creative and media) work is done in-house, while the rest is handed to outside agencies.
Major challenges
  • There has been a huge increase in the volume of work; one brand cited 7,000 unique projects per year, with 17,000 different pieces of output. Those kinds of numbers would keep anyone up at night!
  • Role clarity, process mapping, project management, and scope development are needed.
  • Can a brand automate the management and workflow?
The model
  • A typical in-house agency structure consists of many departments.
  • One brand mentioned having creative, production, media, project management, corporate communications, technology, product development, and consumer insights.
  • A common theme throughout the conference was that 'nobody has it all figured out yet'. Many learnings are coming from mistakes that early adopter brands have made.
  • Many of those brands still work with agencies in some capacity.


The in-housing of marketing is not abolishing of the agency model by any means—the brands we spoke to at the conference expressed their favor of agencies. Yet, agencies are realizing that they have to change their behavior towards brands in general. They need to build a trusted relationship with the brand’s marketing team to have a strong influence in its direction, and that ultimately, will translate to more work with the brand in the future.

For deeper insights about brands and in-house agencies - Centro's director of client development, Genny Drennen, explores the topic further in MediaPost.