It’s no surprise that the brand-agency relationship is changing. One major driver behind this change is how leading brands are moving audience research in-house.

This is happening for a number of reasons, but at the core is how digital is exploding the traditional funnel; consumers are changing, and marketing is following suit.

These brands are taking back control of their marketing spend, empowering themselves with fast access to the insight they need, when they need it.

They’re doing this to streamline their approaches, and ultimately, drive ROI. Here’s how.

1.  They’re being more efficient by cutting out the middleman.

Instead of having to turn to agencies every time they need consumer insight (the need for which is becoming more and more real-time), these brands are able to extract what they need, when they need it, powering more strategic day-to-day decisions.

Picture this. You’re launching a social media campaign targeting millennial moms.

Relying on your agency for insight into the channels and platforms that work best, along with the interests and attitudes that define them, is taking a long time. By being able to jump into this data whenever you need to, you can cut out the middleman and get straight to the insights you want, kicking off your data-led campaign in less time.

This means speeding up the production process, getting rid of any communication barriers and, ultimately, getting more done.

2. They’re taking less risk through data-led budget allocation.

Pressure is rising for marketing departments to deliver against strict targets and to prove ROI on every single campaign and investment. To achieve this, strategy needs to be central to everything they do. Not only that, it needs to be data-driven.

For many marketers, launching a campaign or content initiative means investing in several social and digital channels to see what works, which means budget is often wasted through trial and error.

But with insight at hand into the channels and platforms that work best for your target audience at every stage of the path to purchase, brands can start from the opposite end:

Insight first, investment second.

This way, you’re less reliant on guesswork and budget allocation is streamlined to avoid any unnecessary waste. Whatsmore, it means getting more targeted; rather than investing in every channel and platform you think is best to reach your audience, you can invest more in the ones you know are best to reach them.

That means there are no trade-offs or concessions; It’s now possible to get it right the first time, so there’s no reason not to.

3. They’re taking back control by putting insight in their own hands.

Brands often complain about not having enough visibility into the work their agencies are doing and the processes they follow.

This is especially true when it comes to consumer data and insight. They’re getting second-hand knowledge on their target consumers, often developed using different sources with varied methodologies, making it a challenge to join the dots and create a holistic audience understanding across the business.

Having global and local consumer data at your fingertips that’s all collected using the same trusted methodology is worth more than you may think.

Think about all the things you want your agency to find out about your target segments.

Now imagine being able to ask your target consumers these questions directly, and getting the answers for yourself.

With data that’s easy to generate insight from, it means you’re less reliant on outside help to get what you need.

That’s putting control back in the hands of marketing teams, as they can understand more about their audience, along with what’s working and why.

4. They’re getting more value from agencies by honing in on their expertise.

For too long, agencies have been on boarded by marketing teams to cover everything and anything they lack resource or expertise in.

Now, agencies are branching out into more focused and specialized areas. This is because marketers are becoming more empowered with the tools they’re using.

Take media planning, for example. If marketing teams have ready access to insight that tells them which channels, tactics and methods to invest in, there’s less of a need for agencies to do so, freeing up their time to focus on their areas of expertise.

There’s also less chance of your agencies under-delivering when you come to them with a tighter brief and a much deeper knowledge of your target market, consumers and potential reach.

This means avoiding any overspending, while empowering agencies to become more tailored to the skills they have, giving brands a far better return.

5. They’re getting more done in less time by knowing how to optimize.

Taking this kind of resource in-house means marketers are getting more done, in less time.

Instead of having to wait for performance reports from external agencies and agree on new strategies or approaches, they can tweak and optimize their marketing activity to continuously fit the audiences they’re targeting.

Take influencer marketing, for example. By staying on top of fast-moving trends among their specific target segments, they can know whether or not the direction they’re going in is the right one.

By regularly exploring their audiences’ interests, how they discover brands, what celebrities they engage with and what encourages brand advocacy, they can know exactly what to tap into, and how.

This allows teams to stay clued into their target consumers at all times, leaving less room for guesswork.

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Written by

James de Lacey is Head of Consumer Products at GlobalWebIndex. With a career spanning 20 years in insight and marketing, he's worked client-side and in consulting roles supporting brand owners in developing strategies that deliver tangible insight-led solutions. He's now focused on helping clients realize their full potential, based on a clear understanding of their audiences, and using this intelligence to identify the right marketing strategy and turning it into action.

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