Is In-House Digital Marketing On The Rise In Australia?


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There are plenty of studies focused on Europe and the US which find businesses in these countries are moving to in-house digital marketing as a preference. When it comes to Australia, the evidence is less concrete but the signs of in-house adoption are there.

Let’s start with overseas studies.

In 2019, Bannerflow and Digiday surveyed 200 senior marketers based in Europe in their ‘State of In-Housing in 2019’ study. They found that 91% of those surveyed manage at least some parts of their digital marketing in-house. 96% also believe that having readily accessible advertising tools has allowed more marketers to take marketing operations in-house.

Come 2020, a repeat study not only echoes this original finding but also uncovers that of those brands surveyed, 58% are seeing a positive ROI from in-housing and 63% say creativity has increased through in-housing.

In a nutshell, brands are retaining more of the digital marketing function in-house and as a result, seeing better results financially and creatively!

That’s not all though. 

According to a 2018 study from the In-House Agency Forum, as much as 64% of corporate America has created in-house agencies.

With such strong evidence that in-housing at least some parts of digital marketing is the new norm overseas, it makes sense to assume that Australia is following this trend.

Australia and in-house digital marketing

A 2016 look into Australian supplier relationships by Marketing Advantage found that non-agency marketers estimated a significant shift to in-house support.

With well-known brands such as Foxtel, Commbank, and Optus bringing parts of their marketing and advertising activity in-house, that forecast is probably accurate.

Take the Koala case study, for example. The eCommerce furniture company not only embraced in-house marketing production and operations but laid out a full in-housing strategy to ensure the digital maturity of the company wasn’t held back. 

As a result, Koala is able to better connect with customers using data and insights they have to-hand, 24/7.

While these enterprise businesses are some of Australia’s most well known, that’s not to say others less established aren’t looking to insource more of their marketing too.

In 2019, Isobar launched ‘Accelerate’ to provide Australian businesses with the additional in-house resource, by placing an agency expert within their business and as part of their ongoing team. 

Of course, not everybody agrees that in-house digital marketing is the way to go (wouldn’t it be dull if we all thought the same!).

Some are sceptical about the pool of talent available in Australia and argue that the challenges of recruiting and retaining talent and investing in technology could outway the benefits. 

According to the January – June 2020 Hays Jobs Report, this fear isn’t unfounded as specialist skills in social media, SEO, digital content and digital analytics are both in demand and hard to find.

However, that’s not to say that marketers can’t upskill in these areas. 

It doesn’t mean in-housing is too much of a challenge to pay off, simply that marketers and businesses in 2020 should see professional development opportunities as a necessity. 

Marketers in Australia are embracing opportunities to upskill and stay on top of digital trends, while businesses have the potential to move to an in-house model.

Why is in-house marketing becoming more popular?

There are plenty of reasons to consider in-house digital marketing – and not all of them are cost-related!

A few reasons include:

  • Internal teams are ingrained with the brand and the customer which often means they can bring better brand alignment in marketing content.
  • Agile working – the typical brief, production, rollout, review process of agency-client relationships can prevent fast changes and reactive marketing.
  • An abundance of marketing technology tools that are affordable and available.
  • Immediate access to data and insights.
  • Less reliance on partners means more control for the in-house team.
  • Less marketing budget spent on fees and more invested in the activity.

Of course, I could write an entire post about the benefits of in-house digital marketing – and no doubt I will in the coming weeks – but back to the real topic of this blog.

Is Australia jumping on to the in-house digital marketing bandwagon? My gut tells me yes, especially when we consider the impact of COVID-19 on budgets and real-time marketing. 

Now more than ever, brands need to communicate quickly, step up their personalisation game, and ensure that digital marketing marries up with the customer experience.

For this, access to data and marketing to the consumer with speed are crucial.

Which is why I believe the in-house marketing model is here to stay and while, as with all marketing approaches, it might not be the right fit for every business, it’s likely we’ll see more brands adopting the digital marketing function in-house in the years to come.

What do you think? We’re always open to a good debate so please go ahead and share if and why you agree/disagree in the comments below!


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