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Marketing Agency vs. In-house Team: So Many Choices, So Little Time

By Anna Maria Virzi | September 30, 2016 | 0 Comments


“Insourcing and outsourcing decisions are more frequent, more strategic and more complex,” reads a Gartner research report, “Understand the elements for agile and effective decision making and strategy refresh.”

That assessment, which dates back to a decade ago, refers to IT operations. Today, it applies to marketing leaders as well, who must evaluate their insource-outsource strategies, but for very different reasons than IT leaders. It’s not all about saving money. Instead, marketers seek the right talent and capabilities to achieve business goals for growth, improved customer experience and innovation.

The 2016 Gartner Marketing Organizational Design and Strategy Survey found that more than 40% of marketers say they planned to increase their use of agencies three to five years out. Why? The perception that agencies deliver superior quality or performance than in-house staff.

Marketing leaders face an overwhelming array of external agency, marketing specialist and project staffing resources,” explains Gartner Research Director Christopher Ross in his research note, “Designing Your Marketing Team for the Next Decade.”  (Subscription required.) What’s more, marketing leaders don’t always have sufficient time to vet their options.

The changing landscape includes:

  • Freelance marketplaces for on-demand creative and technical talent
  • Managed marketplaces, which assist in the selection of contributors and oversight of projects.
  • Technology vendors, which have expanded into professional services
  • Management consultancies that have built out capabilities in digital commerce, customer experience and analytics
  • Niche agencies that serve specific vertical industries or geographic areas or bring expertise to specialized areas of marketing

Regardless of what approach you take, insource-outsource capabilities need to be continuously evaluated as new engagement arrangements, compensation models and marketing partners emerge.

Know what questions to ask before deciding to retain in-house talent or outsource capabilities to an agency. See “How to Balance Your Insource/Outsource Marketing Talent Mix,” (subscription required.)


The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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