How to Successfully Bring Social Advertising in House
Are you insourcing your social advertising efforts right now? Or maybe you’re not ready yet, but you’re planning to take social advertising in house in the next few years?
Whether you’re an agency or a brand marketer looking to bring social into your in-house operations, you’re not alone.
Brands are leaning in hard—at least for now. According to a survey of 412 US client-side marketers conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 78% of respondents claim to use an in-house agency for some portion of their previously agency-owned work, up from 58% in 2013. A Google search will return many publications citing in-house advertising as an opportunity that can’t be overlooked.
Brand Networks has the luxury of not needing a strong opinion about this. We are one of the very few social advertising providers offering both award-winning social advertising technology and highly experienced managed media services for some of the top advertisers and agencies across the globe. Admittedly, we see reduced margins when clients insource, but the scalability of our software platform is unprecedented in any services business. It’s win-win for us and our clients in either scenario.
We also go above and beyond the typical social advertising specialty shop by offering services that help our clients tie digital together across channels. We believe this is the new frontier in performance improvement, and we want to help our clients head into the future..
Bringing social advertising in-house can be futuristic, even for media agencies. This is especially true for consumer brands—where advancing the marketing function is almost always a core priority. Social is an ever-changing landscape. But cutting out the so-called “middleman” to create cost-efficiencies can create cost-per performance… Right?
Recent reports reveal many brands aren’t ready for this move. I’ve seen the same on the agency side. Many advertisers backtrack away from their insourcing efforts after realizing the grass isn’t greener on the other side—at least so far. Why is that?
Risk is underestimated. Timelines are unrealistic. Success is rare.
Falling back to managed service is the norm. Brands or agencies chasing short-term gains almost certainly see a dip in performance and efficiency. Many times, they even “backslide” into managed services.
If you’re committed to in-housing, do it right and reap the long-term benefits in one straight shot.
Brand Networks advocates for and supports a transition that goes like this: Crawl. Walk. Run.
I won’t get into the whole process we use to help our clients win in this article, but I can advocate for three foundational keys to success:
Key 1: Plan Enough Time for Knowledge Sharing
An in-house transition deserves more than “a meeting”—it requires genuine knowledge sharing. Full stop. Tap into the minds of the social advertising experts who have been at the helm from Point A to Point B, and you’ll successfully continue the journey from Point B into the future.
Savvy advertisers take the time to understand the big picture as well as the individual campaigns. What targeting approach worked best during the holidays? How do consumers respond to video ads on this emerging platform? How does seasonality impact overall strategy and individual campaigns? Every question is a good one—different seasons, different objectives, and unusual circumstances require knowledge transfer that new teams will need.
Knowledge transfer is about more than just “having the historical data.” Rushing through the insights-sharing step may seem like a way to save time and resources, but without it, new teams will have to start from the beginning. This will mean investing valuable company resources to rediscover lost knowledge on their own.
Key 2: Set a Foundation by Transitioning One Initiative at a Time
Any project manager will tell you a good plan should begin with a timeline and a scope. If the timeline is longer, if the scope is more detailed, and if the setback schedule is more specific, then the chances of success are much greater.
Start with a solid plan, and, most importantly, transition one campaign initiative at a time, beginning with the simplest and least risky executions. You don’t start driving by jumping on the Autobahn and pushing your car to 120mph.
Define the goals for each type of campaign or group of campaigns. Start with a few campaigns in the same objective and work with your media partner to understand the foundation and best practices of that first set. How has this first segment performed in past quarters? What about in previous years? How have the measurement and optimization strategies related to this segment’s objective evolved over the same period?
Allowing internal teams to slowly take the “wheel” will give them the chance to understand what success looks like and what’s driven historical success. This will help them get up to speed safely and confidently.
Key 3: Scale Only When Ready and Call in the Experts When Needed
Social advertising may seem operational to you. (It’s strategic, too, when done right.) But for the sake of argument, a factory assembly line is operational, too. If you can’t do it once, you’ll never be able to do it in a hurry, over and over again. Your internal teams are exuding confidence. Maybe they’re experienced. (They should be.) But that doesn’t mean they know how your particular assembly line works
After they’ve delivered the first few campaigns, help them scale into production mode. Bring in your previous partner to help you iron out the kinks in the at-scale process. Use them as an extra set of eyes and ears to bounce ideas off of, and check every element in your campaign—from strategy, performance, and competition.
Finally, give your internal team the opportunity to let go when atypical scenarios arise.
Is it time to spend 25% of your budget fast during the Black Friday or Memorial Day sale push? Are you launching a new product or approaching your peak season? Do you have your bid and spend strategies in place to drive the best ROAS? Whatever way you look at it, your old partners have done those things for you, and know them well. When the risk is high, look to your longtime consultants to help. If your current vendor is a true partner, they’ll be there—especially if they are experts at using the unique technology your teams have adopted to make it all work.
Follow these keys to make your goals a reality. Don’t underestimate. Social platforms are still-maturing, ad types are always changing, and targeting capabilities are being impacted by regulation. This space isn’t solid ground; it’s a boiling sea. This is the primary reason many brands and agencies use specialized managed media partners in the first place.
For now, the shift to in-house is underway. Take your time and do it right.
Crawl first. Walk second. Run third. Do these things with a trusted partner at your side and gain the efficiency you seek.