In-house vs. outsource: Why hire an agency if you have your own media buying team?

Hi friends! Certainly, many of you have your own media buying department aimed at user acquisition and you have loads of performance marketing agencies reaching out to you and promising a great, previously unreached number of app installs/purchases and a deep expertise in new markets you, supposedly, don’t have.

That is why you need to answer the questions “Do I really need an agency to do mobile user acquisition for me? Will it do any good? Will it be cheaper or bring the company more revenue?”

First of all, we’d like to name the most frequent reasons why product companies do refer to agencies. Obviously, it happens when a company or its internal team faces some problems. Here are some of them:

  1. they have the team, but they don’t reach the cost recovery goals, that is to say, they work for minus

  2. they cannot reach some other key performance indicators and are urged to reach them as soon as possible by the investors or stakeholders

  3. they just don’t have enough lucid minds in the team. Sad as it is, a stable and fully packed user acquisition is not that easy to be put together, especially if your office is not located in a megapolis. Many good buyers are experts in one traffic source only, multi-taskers with expertise in many sources are real celebs, they are hard to find and even harder to hold. That is only natural because professionals tend to grow their knowledge by working with different types of products and different goals, some say they get bored with lead generation for one company only.

Of course, those reasons may vary and you might have not found your situation above.  We have asked our buying and sales team to compare in-house and outsource media buying and name the most vital advantages and disadvantages for both options. 

In-house media buying, PROS:
1) expertise in your own product, the deepest possible (features/history/missions)

2) knows cold the company brand book (though accidents happen and the creatives still need to be approved)

3) strategy and anything needing approval, any changes go faster

4) transparency – must be here if your team is loyal to you

In-house media buying, CONS:

1) being used to typical solutions. Some in-house teams are attached to certain marketing approaches/audience selections etc almost to the extent of cognitive bias

2) lack of overall expertise in the market

3) lack of resources

4) unseen costs for “project management” – the strategy, employees, task tracking utilities, quarrels between a brand manager, a buyer, and a designer are not often taken into account, but they certainly exist!

Agency, CONS:

1) transparency. Their pricing might seem dark and full of terrors, so don’t be shy and ask to explain the pricing and check processes in detail. Choose an agency that can provide you with all necessary data and reports without needing to trust anyone blindly, although choosing an agency with a reputation can save you a couple of revision/checks headaches

2) have to get through creative approval processes, explaining your branding and mission

3) need to sign papers (and even read the terms, maybe several times). Don’t say it can’t be stressful or you haven’t paranoid about “being left with nothing” 

4) the teams spen more time communicating with outsourcers, especially is they have to use a non-native language and get through time zones and cultural barriers

Agency, PROS:


1) has previous experience with the apps of the needed type, maybe even with the client’s rivals

2) a bigger selection of bright heads, which means a broader view and the ability to test more hypotheses

3) the agencies market is mature in most developed countries, which means they fight to get good clients and try to offer the best possible conditions (and exceed their competitors’ results)

4) plus, an agency only gets paid for the result. You can sign a contract to only pay for what satisfies you. You can try as many performers as you wish until you find a perfect one

5) a good agency can not only bring you the purchases or leads but also help define your real long-term goals, suggest edits to your strategy, brand image and whatever needs to be changed to make you the best of the best. Usually, it comes along with the media buying contract, so you don’t pay extra for that. 

6) if the need in growth or the growth itself is sudden or seasonal, you need to either double your team in no time to meet the new requirements or keep the expensive specialists there for you for the whole year even if your app doubles up in downloads in summer (it might be a plane ticket finder of a scooter rental app)

7) an agency pays for a variety of analytics/spying tools – most companies use only one since the costs might be significant

8) you can test an unlimited number of traffic sources at once not wasting your time to sign a contract and reach better terms with each of them. Your team won’t have to dive into each source’s specifics, deal with their support and wait for their replies. Moreover, it is most likely you won’t do that because you don’t believe in their efficiency and don’t want to stop the contract after three months of running traffic. Agencies have it all set up, so it’s a kind of turn-key marketing solution

The pros list is quite impressive, isn’t it? We don’t deny we are an agency so we know only too well the value a fruitful collaboration can bring:) However if you decide to stick to in-house marketing and have something to say, we’d love to hear your comments! Or, if the advantages aren’t weighty enough for you, drop us a line with your product name, and we’ll see what great thing we can do for you. 


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