7 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Bringing Media In-House
1. What is the definition of in-house?
Bringing media in-house is a spectrum — your agency can fall on any point between fully independent or fully managed by vendors. The first step to bringing media in-house is to decide where your agency should fall on this spectrum and how you know when you’ve reached that point.
You could focus on percentage of media spend managed in-house or you could focus on mastering certain channels (e.g., just focusing on perfecting connected TV this quarter) or something else entirely.
It’s really up to your agency’s overall business strategy, but it’s best to start with something attainable within your fiscal year and reassess from there.
Determining what marks success will help you navigate all the remaining questions. But this answer can be ambiguous and hard to define early on.
LumenAd specializes in helping agencies bring media in-house. We will help you identify the target you want to hit on the in-housing spectrum and create a plan to ensure a bullseye.
2. Do we have the resources?
When we talk about resources, we’re talking about people. As it stands today, media management includes a lot of gruntwork. And someone has to do it all.
In many ways media professionals are the unsung heroes of the advertising world. They can make or break a campaign and often pull long hours to ensure performance. You need to budget for experts. And if you can’t get experts, budget the time and money required to train experts.
Nothing you plan out will matter if you don’t have the human capital successful campaigns require.
Depending on where you’d like to fall on the in-housing spectrum outlined above, you can hire out experts to fill in the gaps. Otherwise, you need to be realistic about what’s required to attract and develop the talent you need in-house.
3. What tech stack do we need?
Investing in a tech stack is where budgets balloon for agencies bringing media in-house. This is where you need to be very intentional about the tools you onboard, or you risk becoming a “slave” to the technology, rather than using it as a tool.
You need to think through which technologies you’ll need for:
- Media planning
- Contract (Insertion Order) management
- Brand safety and verification
- Attribution modeling
- Pixel tracking
- Ad serving
- Data management
- Monitoring and optimizations
The issue with these technologies is that there is a lot of overlap. An attribution vendor may have pixel tracking capabilities that don’t quite cover what you need in a pixel tracker. So you invest in a pixel tracking service that has some reporting capabilities, but can’t integrate everything you need it to. So you invest in a reporting dashboard that ingests a ton of data, but is a behemoth to operate. So you … and on and on.
One way to nip this budget balloon in the bud is to invest in a platform designed specifically for what your doing: in-housing media. A platform like this will give you a holistic overview of all your vendors so you can cut that fat and connect capabilities as needed.
LumenAd does exactly this, as one of our clients told us:
I’ve become all-knowing, all-seeing omnipotent master of [our vendors].
– Director of Media
4. What is our communication strategy?
How will you keep all campaign stakeholders up to date on performance? How often will you fill them in? What will you provide each time and why? What cadence can your team handle?
It’s a lot to consider and it’s not something you want to figure out for each campaign. Codify a communication strategy that is standardized to lessen the workload of your team and customizable enough to adapt to any campaign situation.
A few things we suggest you plan your communication strategy around:
- What is the main key performance indicator (KPI)?
- How are you pacing to hit that KPI?
- What is your return on ad spend?
- What audience and targeting strategy is driving results?
- What creative strategy is working?
- What opportunities exist moving forward?
- How does campaign performance correlate to on-site engagement?
Your client’s needs and your team’s capacity should both determine your communication cadence. As these are two highly variable factors, you’ll need to budget for adjustments to your communication strategy down the road.
One big issue is that the client may not be fully aware of all the nuances of what’s affecting performance. Standardized, frequent and comprehensive reports will go a long way to easing their minds and keeping your team doing what they do best.
5. How will we manage all this data?
If you bring media in-house, you will be managing data. And that is a big responsibility. You’ll need a data plan and legal documentation if you don’t have them already.
A data management platform (DMP) is a good resource to invest in, but again, be careful your team doesn’t become a “slave” to it. It has to be a tool that improves efficiency, not a hurdle to clear every time your team executes a campaign.
6. How will we actually manage campaigns?
OK, this is the biggie. How will your team consistently ensure performance in a way that’s scalable and profitable?
We go in-depth on this question in a recent article, but the gist is that managing campaigns is a ton of work. Many times, agencies have super sharp analytical minds grinding out gruntwork when they could offer so much more.
The answer is to automate what we call low value-add tasks and prioritize high value-add tasks. That is, determine which tasks are actually worth your team’s time and automate the rest.
A few tasks LumenAd automates right now:
- Campaign pricing and invoicing
- Matching creatives to URL data
- Normalizing all channel and platform data (i.e., making it speak apples-to-apples)
- Budget and impression pacing
- Forecasted spend and conversion goals
- Conversion tracking
- Return on ad spend
With these off your team’s plate, they can focus on evaluating performance, pulling valuable insights, communicating those insights, optimizing and (most importantly) innovating. To make bringing media in-house worth it for your agency, these are the tasks you want your team focused on.
7. How will we get buy-in?
Bringing media in house will have a huge impact on your agency. You’ll make your clients happier, your creatives will have a better idea of how their work performs and leadership will be safe in the knowledge that the agency itself is growing profitably.
Understand that bringing media in house in not like flipping a switch. It will take time and there will be stumbling blocks. But by answering all the questions above, you’ll have a solid vision everyone can buy in to and work towards.
A good start is to define your milestones and implement a plan for measuring and communicating progress. Tell everyone exactly how you’ll keep them informed and invested.
But the clincher will always be “cost efficiencies” as eMarketer demonstrates. They showed that cost efficiencies get around double the response as the runner up. So show them the money, back it up with a plan and (of course) follow through.
LumenAd helps agencies think through their answers to these questions all the time. If you’d like us to give you a demo of our platform and to help you think through these questions, drop us a line today.
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