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Forrester’s research shows that half of firms have moved some digital marketing capabilities in-house, and another third plan to do so. Whether you are a company CMO or an agency CEO, insourcing involves a lot of anxiety. Both should ask: “What does this mean for my business?”

Make In-House Digital Marketing A Strategic Asset

It’s time for CMOs and agency leaders to face the music with agency rosters. Digital marketing can no longer be dispersed across multiple external agencies. It creates a digital strategy lacking transparency and control. To resolve these, CMOs must take the reins and bring digital marketing in-house. Set your sites on eCommerce, analytics, lead generation, content, social marketing, and CRM, as they are vital functions to build customer relationships.

A notable exception is creative services. The creative agency brings perspective, a detached point of view, and passion, all of which are rocket fuel for creativity and best situated in an agency culture rather than a risk-averse corporate culture.

A second exception is media planning and buying. The media agency brings buying clout that is onerous to replicate for firms that are not a top 10 advertiser. They also bring expertise, the latest thinking, and access to emerging platforms.

Blend Internal And External Agency Expertise

CMOs and agency leaders need to take decisive actions to integrate their experts and create true partnerships. Simply bolting on creative, digital, and media capabilities to internal resources sows discontent as internal and external agencies compete for projects, fees, and control. CMOs and agency leaders must either manage the melee or turn a blind eye. A hybrid model between internal and external resources forces a choice between owning strategy and controlling execution.

To create true partnerships, CMOs and agencies must blend their talent and resources. A blended agency model interweaves key capabilities across creative, digital marketing, and media. By blending their expertise in-house, external agencies share the responsibilities, accountability, technology, and incentive to collaborate.

Yes, a blended agency requires rethinking how clients and agencies work together. Yes, it requires rethinking accountability and not making the agency the sole scapegoat. It also requires rethinking how to build and sustain creative cultures inside the client organization. Now is the time to rethink the future of the industry — internally and externally. Let the blending begin.

If you are interested in learning more about a blended in-house agency model and how to apply it, read my latest report or email me at