Agency vs. In-House: What’s Better for Your Media Buying Strategy?
When you’re expanding or improving your marketing strategy, you’ll likely be faced with that age-old question: do it yourself, expand your team, or hire it out? At the end of the day, who does the work is just as important to ROI as the work itself.
A media buying agency specializes in orchestrating media planning for paid advertising, often including programmatic media buying, developing creative for digital search and display ads, and negotiating traditional media buys. Many marketing agencies offer media planning and buying as a part of a holistic suite of services like social media strategy, SEO, and brand strategy.
As an agency with a wide-ranging client base, we’ve seen firsthand that there truly are no hard and fast rules about whether keeping media planning in-house or outsourcing is better.
It’s crucial to understand where your team is at and to measure the costs of both avenues against your marketing budget and connect it to your overarching business goals.
To help you make an informed decision about what would be best for your business, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of both options.
What to Consider When Choosing In-House vs. Agency
Media buying agencies bring with them the hard-won expertise and insights that come with working for multiple clients across industries and channels. Your team likely knows your product or service and your customer base better than anyone. When you work collaboratively, you can leverage an agency’s deep knowledge of media buying strategy to amplify excellent communications your marketing team is already communicating.
Here are a few questions to think about as you consider whether to keep media buying on your plate or outsource it to an agency:
Does your team already have media buying expertise?
If not, is upskilling and research factored into your project plan and budget?
If you’ve done paid advertising campaigns in the past, what specifically are you looking to improve in terms of both process and outcomes?
Could you use the specialized insights an agency team can offer?
Do you have the time and resources to run effective experiments and A/B tests?
Are you proficient at collecting and analyzing the data from your campaigns so you can drive better results in the future?
To help you answer some of these questions for yourself, we’ve gathered a few pros and cons of using your in-house team to do media buying versus hiring a media buying agency.
Media Buying with Your In-House Team
Visibility: With your team, you have total visibility into every aspect of your marketing strategy. You have control over how one project affects the others and combine data from multiple parts of your business without compromising on customer data privacy.
Brand continuity and agility: Keeping your paid advertising initiatives gives you total control over the creative and you won’t have to have any back-and-forth with an agency over asset reviews. If you need to make a last-minute change to creative, you can do so in the moment.
Finding talent: If you don’t have the expertise you need on your team, you’ll have to hire or train current team members. Even agencies struggle to find top-tier media buying talent: 70% of programmatic media buying agencies report that finding skilled employees is the biggest challenge when building out their services. It’s easier to hire an agency that already has a number of dedicated, skilled team members rather than trying to find the talent yourself.
Access to the best software: An agency will already have the best software solutions they’ve vetted to help you meet your needs. If you’re just starting out with programmatic ad buying, for example, you have to take the time to choose the right platforms and channels and then onboard your team onto ad buying software or ad platforms like Google Ads.
Outsourcing Media Buying to an Agency
Industry-leading expertise: If you’re working with a media buying agency, the team already knows the ins and outs of the entire process and is up to date with the latest strategies and technology. Marketing agencies that offer multiple services typically have specialized team members handling each of their clients’ specific needs. Experience with multiple types of clients gives agencies deeper insight into what’s working and what isn’t and can bring more options to the table.
Full suite of tools: The agency will already have the tools, software, and workflows in place to kick off your media buying initiative with maximum efficiency. They will also be able to troubleshoot issues with the software and digital platforms because they’re already familiar with them.
Connections to media outlets and potential partners: Agencies have existing relationships with publications, traditional media companies, or other agencies that can facilitate sponsorship opportunities. Agencies may also have discounted rate deals with these service providers, so you pay less for your media buy at the end of the day. Additionally, you don’t have to spend time on the phone or exchanging emails to negotiate traditional media buys, the agency does the heavy lifting for you.
Intensive discovery process: When you hire a new agency, you’ll have to introduce them to your brand, your business model, and communicate your messaging and positioning. A good agency will check in with you at multiple points during the process to ensure they’re hitting the mark, but this still takes time and resources for you and your team.
Communication and administration: Juggling multiple agencies for different initiatives can be just as time-consuming as managing new projects on your team. Choose one agency that has several specialists who can handle more types of marketing needs.
Cost: Agencies come with fees that go beyond what you’re actually spending on ads. It’s important to understand what the media buying initiative would cost you if you kept your media planning in-house and weigh that against the fees laid out in the media buying agency’s agreement.
Outsourcing Media Buying as Part of Your Hybrid Marketing Team
In 2021, 30% of European companies report adopting a hybrid marketing model. Much of their marketing is done in-house, but they still turn to agencies when they need specialized expertise. Choosing to leverage the niche knowledge of an agency for your media buying needs alongside your in-house marketing initiatives is a proven strategy that more top players continue to adopt.
Still unsure? Our team will be happy to discuss your options and see what is a best fit for you and your goals.
Keagan Perlette, Digital Marketing Copywriter
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.