The 9 Pros and Cons of In-House Marketing vs Ad Agencies

In-House Marketing

In the world of marketing and advertising, there are three different options for organizing the creation of campaigns and marketing activities:

  1. Using the company’s in-house marketing team for everything
  2. Hiring an ad agency to work on your marketing campaigns
  3. In-house marketing team and ad agency collaborate on marketing campaigns

A research report from the Society of Digital Agencies found that there is a big trend towards producing marketing in-house. A lot of Companies are not hiring agencies anymore. They have plenty for reasons to do so. But instead of highlighting only one side, we want to give you a real comparison between the three options. If you are faced with the decision of choosing one of them and unsure about it, let us help you. Apart from your individual situation, we can give you objective reasons that will help you to make a decision.

What is In-House Marketing?

In-house marketing means that marketing activities of a company are handled by employees of the company. No or only a few external individuals or organizations are involved in the marketing processes.

Sometimes companies decide to build an in-house marketing team but want to replicate the agency model. They establish so-called in-house ad agencies.

What is an In-House Ad Agency?

The in-house advertising agency is structured like a traditional agency but only has one client: its mother company. It isn’t necessarily the only agency the mother company is working with but it often focuses on specific advertising areas.

Examples of in-house ad agencies are Content Factory by Coca-Cola, BBC Creative by BBC or Yellow Tag Productions by Best Buy.

What are Pros and Cons of In-House Marketing?

The Advantages

A Deep Understanding of the Brand and Product


Strong Bonding

Fast Communication

The Disadvantages

Too Much Routine

Lack of Experience

Lack of Resources

Same Old Perspective

Less HR Flexibility

The Advantages of In-House Marketing

A Deep Understanding of the Brand and Product

A big plus for in-housing is that the team is already familiar with the company’s product, philosophy, and culture. Therefore, they’re able to easily determine which approaches work best for the company. Your team knows best – whether it’s the most fitting topics to write about, the best keywords to use, or the most accurate ways to portray your target group!

“An in-house marketing team is embedded in the company and has a deep understanding of brand, culture, product, and internal processes.”

Zoe Matthews, Marketing manager at RealTimeUK

Even though an outside agency will be briefed about your company’s goals and the topic of  your campaign, externals still won’t be as connected to the company’s philosophy as your home team will be.


Because your marketing team knows your company like the backs of their hands and works exclusively for your company, they put much more dedication into their work. Your company’s fortune is also their fortune, after all. Dedication and interest in your work are extra boosts to your team members’ motivation, which you can only benefit from.

Strong Bonding

Working as a team to achieve your goals day after day can really tie people together. Therefore, relevant marketing topics can be easily discussed, and everyone from the team is engaged since they all want to move forward. So, creating a good team spirit can positively affect your team results.

Fast Communication

An in-house team will provide you with much faster communication paths because you’re all working together in the same place. Even if you have remote workers on your team, you can at least notify them quickly, and expect a fast response time. Working with ad agencies often requires you to schedule meetings with several persons at once which can be quite difficult. If you are using a collaboration platform like Slack, you can invite the agency employees to Slack to improve these communication workflows.

Having direct and fast communication and collaboration channels allows you to set up and run campaigns quicker and to respond to upcoming marketing trends more flexible.

The Disadvantages

Too Much Routine

Here’s something that could be a little dreary for some people: Team members only get to focus on one single area, which they’ll stick to for a very long time. In general, there are positive and negative routines. Positive Routines can help employees to be self-confident about their work, speed up decision processes and ensure consistency. Negative routines can result in being less creative, sticking to bad habits and missing the big picture. Especially handling the negative routines is an important factor if you think about hiring an in-house marketing team.

Lack of Experience

If you hire an agency to do the marketing job for you, their advantage over an in-house team is that they have a lot of marketing experiencenot only in one field but in many different kinds of companies. They’re probably already used to have a client from a branch similar to yours, so they know how to create the best strategies for your company..

Lack of Resources

To produce high-quality marketing content and to run outstanding advertising campaigns, you need many experts. When you don’t have the talent inside your company, you have to hire an ad agency. There are only a few people in the world who are the best at what they do, especially at creating marketing campaigns. An ad agency often employs the most creative talents in the marketing industry, so they can provide you with resources that meet the company’s standards.

Same Old Perspective

Ever heard the saying “four eyes see more than two?” While this saying originally referred to wearing glasses, this concept also holds true for agencies. Why? Because getting input and suggestions from a team often brings new ideas from a completely fresh point of view. An in-house team may have grown so accustomed to the habits and philosophy of the company that they don’t even consider thinking outside the box, which can sometimes be a drag.

According to Matthews, “Involving an agency who share the same values and ethos, but are able to be objective and offer a different perspective, can bolster campaigns and generate results.”

Less HR Flexibility

The advantage of an agency is that you can quickly fire them if their work doesn’t pay off. You can also fire an employee but a marketing team is built having a long-term strategy in mind. If the cooperation doesn’t work out, you need to restructure the team and adjust the strategy. Before taking the decision of building an in-house marketing, you should also calculate the total cost that comes with it. Moreover, it takes much longer to onboard a new team member and to explain how things work. This is something that you shouldn’t be too casual about, especially if you have many complex processes and many different manuals that guide you about how to get things done.

When Should You Build an In-House Marketing Team?

You want to keep and grow expertise within the company and build an internal team of experts.

Companies that want to grow their marketing department with a long-term strategy and long-term marketing goals in mind should decide to start building an in-house marketing team. This will allow them to assemble a team of individuals that will become resident experts and are able to adopt new marketing trends quickly.

You are willing to spend time on building a powerful team.

Building an in-house marketing team can be seen as an investment that will pay off over time. Are you eager to start? Keep it lean. Hire your first marketing employee(s) and make sure that your marketing team is covering the most important marketing roles.

You don’t want to spend time on coordination processes that involve external parties.

Communicating with an agency can be time-intensive. Avoiding external communication and coordination processes can save you valuable time and money that can be invested e. g. in onboarding new employees.

When Should You Hire an Ad Agency?

You need innovation immediately.

It can make sense to hire an ad agency if you are looking for new innovations and a fresh external view on your marketing activities. Your existing team might be too tied up in everyday tasks and don’t have the capacities to drive innovation within your company.

You need results immediately.

You should consider collaborating with an advertising agency if you need to reach high goals in little time e. g. to satisfy your investors. There are different types of agencies out there and you’ll find experts in each business field that are able to deliver results quickly.

Your budget is low.

Hiring an agency can look expensive at first glance. But if you compare it to the cost of hiring a full team of marketers, it’s a steal.

When Should You Hire Both, In-House Marketers and Ad Agency?

You want to use the benefits of both sides.

If you are interested in using the capabilities of both parties, you could simply hire an in-house marketer who manages the collaboration with an external marketing agency. This way, you can take the first step of building an in-house marketing team of experts while getting support from an experienced agency.

You don’t have the budget to employ a complete marketing team yet.

You should consider the mixed way if you want to build your in-house marketing department but don’t have the budget to employ a full team yet. This way, you can easily substitute missing competencies by bringing in an agency.

You want to stay flexible.

Hiring one or two in-house marketers and an agency that supports them can be a good middle way if you haven’t decided yet on a final strategy. As a result, you will still have the possibility to focus on expanding your team or booking more agency services at each point in the future.

Additional Resources:

Information about In-House Marketing

Survey about state of in-house marketing of Association of National Advertisers (2013)

Information about Ad Agencies

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working at an ad agency?

How to find the perfect agency?

How to collaborate with agencies on content?


Employing an in-house marketing team has individual strengths and weaknesses. Most of the traits of in-house marketing can either be seen as positive or negative. But in the end, it’s always based on your company’s needs.

To sum things up: In-house marketing is great if you want to create your marketing approaches with a team that genuinely cares about your company’s values, and constantly think about how to present them to the public.

We are curious about your opinion as well. In-house marketing, ad agency or a mix? Let us know about it in the comments.