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The creative advertising industry has faced many changes and as businesses consider how to tighten budgets, produce more content yet keep quality levels high, many are setting up their own in-house teams or are looking to firm up their agency relationships and widen supply chains by finding the right blend of in-house, offshore and outsourced partners.

Whether a brand should set up an in-house agency, continue with an external marketing agency or consider an offshore partner will depend on the business’ needs, point of view and capabilities.

An external agency can provide a ‘bird’s eye view’ and specialised knowledge whereas an in-house team can have much tighter control over the content, turn it around faster and be part of a team with shared goals. While an offshore partner can offer the flexibility to scale projects, giving access to scalable resource 24/7 at cost which can also be beneficial to both in-house and outsourced agencies.

Before being able to decide which marketing model is better for your business, the difference between an in-house, external and offshore agency needs to be explored.

What is an In-house agency?    

An in-house agency refers to a brand’s internal team which solely focuses on the advertising and marketing of their product or service. In-housing allows brands to successfully build a team to fit around their capabilities, engage directly with the technology, data and marketing teams, while giving the in-house agency full exposure to the brand’s culture, processes and consumer behaviour.

With transparency, collaboration, agility, creativity and cost-savings at the forefront of marketers’ minds, many brands have or are considering the shift to in-housing.

Brands such as Three, Unilever, Lloyds, and Specsavers have all moved into the in-house space with many more considering this approach. Whether for costs, control, or more personable campaigns, in-housing has rapidly evolved into a mainstream model.

Although initially an in-house setup can be a huge commitment – building the right solution around the people, process and technology can lend itself to create content faster, more efficiently, resulting in more meaningful and relevant consumer engagement. Not to mention the typical cost savings of between 20% to 40% across all services.

What are the advantages of an in-house agency?

  • As in-house employees, they are already dedicated to your business, and they have a deeper understanding of it. They are natural brand ambassadors and can talk in a highly enthusiastic and effusive way about your brand.
  • The process usually has a faster turnaround time as teams will be tracking their time management on tasks. There can be tighter control over processes and workflow and any delays can be immediately flagged.
  • Being physically closer and part of the same cross team meetings creates a stronger bond between departments while they inspire and motivate one another. This is particularly important to ensure they work well together and that these relationships improve productivity.
  • Saves money in the long run for your brand. While it might be a more time-intensive process at the start, any brand that puts in the effort will reap the benefits in the future. Paying a salaried employee ensures security for both the business and the employee.

Let’s have a look at some of the pitfalls:

  • You may have more junior members supporting your team and while they’ll have great ideas, they may need additional guidance. It also takes time for newer team members to fully immerse themselves with the brand guidelines and be onboarded properly.
  • In-house marketing teams have a higher start-up cost than using an agency model.
  • If you’re struggling with the performance of a team member, there is more work that will need to done to develop them if their output isn’t where the business needs it to be. So you’ll also have to make sure you have a top-notch HR team to support them with a development plan.

External Agencies – Who they are and what do they offer?

A creative agency is dedicated to creating, planning and handling all forms of advertising, marketing and promotion for clients to maximise brand awareness and engage a wider audience through their marketing channels i.e. commercials, social media, print or events. External agencies are typically “branding experts” who produce visually exciting, enticing and persuasive campaigns for a client.

What are the advantages of an external agency?

  • They have the experience to understand what campaigns work best for your industry.
  • Through working with multiple companies and campaigns they bring in fresh new ideas.
  • They can take care of some of the day-to-day marketing tasks that you do not have the time or expertise to complete.
  • You can work with them on a project basis on specific larger campaigns which need a more of an expert eye.
  • You can work with an agency local to the market you are trying to reach to ensure the cultural message and ideas are on point.

Are there any downsides?

  • External agencies have had the stigma of being overpriced for their services. Most agencies provide a reasonable rate for their ability to provide a broader point of view to their client. In-house agencies can cost nearly the same amount to be maintained.
  • External agencies aren’t in your business on a daily basis, so they might not always be aware of company-specific information. They have a large client base and they cannot immerse themselves in your company values.

Offshoring – where does it fit in?

Offshoring involves the relocation of business activities from the home country to a different location internationally, usually for lower costs and is becoming increasingly popular amongst brands. Considered a mature industry for creative production services due to ease of access to an extensive talent pool with a high level of skill across digital, CGI, animation, video post-production, web and app build, retouching and artwork, it doesn’t come as a surprise.

Currently, 76% of production and marketing services agencies offshore some creative production services according to the 2021 Benchmark Report on Delivering Offshore Success.

By partnering with an offshore company for all creative production services this could typically save you around 40% to 70% based on £14 or less per hour for artwork production, with video and digital banners or display advertising providing the greatest level of cost savings – between £14 – £16 per hour.

As well as the obvious – savings, what other reasons are there to offshore?

  • Offshore companies work in shift patterns, so can offer a 24/7 service, which is perfect for managing peaks and troughs in work or for those seasonal campaigns.
  • Faster turnaround on projects for campaigns with short lead times or overnight deadlines.
  • Ability to produce content at scale, at speed for less without any compromises on quality.
  • Access to flexible commercial models.
  • The potential to reallocate internal resources to generate new business for the brand.

What are some of the common misconceptions of offshoring?

  • The initial setup of an offshore relationship can be time consuming, complicated and daunting.
  • Teams will need to be scaled down and redundancies made.
  • Offshoring is only really good for short, simple tasks and won’t benefit long-term success.
  • A team in another country will be harder to manage with the cultural and language barriers, not to mention the time difference.
  • A cheaper price means poorer quality.

But, with the right offshore partner in place, all this can be easily managed and controlled.

Smartshoring: an evolution of your offshoring journey

A more relevant form of offshoring, Smartshoring has all the benefits of offshoring but with the added benefit of in-country client service teams.

This model utilises centres of excellence and production hubs around the globe to capture the best talent wherever they may be, whilst maintaining clear communication and cultural nuance through close ties with in-country account teams allowing for a more seamless approach.

Find the right balance that’s going to work for your brand

While brands and in-house teams will continue to work with external agencies to challenge ideas, a combined offshore and in-house strategy is the future for many brands. It provides the most value for money when investing in content marketing and producing it at scale. The versatility and flexibility of this model can be dynamite, offering multiple solutions to often complex challenges.

With more brands engaging with an offshore provider and as the market diversifies its service offering, cultural and geographical barriers are broken down and working with global partners through remote networks is becoming common place.

To discuss your offshore strategy with one of our experts, drop us a message today to find out how We Are Amnet can support your brand and creative production needs. 

Shelley Harrison

Author Shelley Harrison

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