These are exciting times to be a digital advertising creative.
With a varied mix of rich channels available to showcase our work, and innovative, automated methods, there’s a sense that the sky’s the limit when it comes to what we can do as agencies in the online space.
The democratisation and growth of our output has also meant an evolution in the way we work, with a big increase in the number of brands setting up their own in-house agencies in recent times.
The move to brands having their own creative firepower definitely feels like a natural progression, and the advantages are obvious; no punitive fees, specialist personnel who really ‘get’ the brand, and the kind of transparency that isn’t always present with an external agency.
I was the European Creative Director for a large high-street retailer for two years and so have been fortunate enough to experience what it’s like working in-house first-hand.
The experience was immensely enjoyable but the challenges of producing great work are very different from agency-side, primarily because your clients are also your colleagues, so the kind of dynamic discord that usually exists between agency creatives and their client counterparts is difficult to replicate.
There’s also an enhanced sense of responsibility to protect and uphold the brand in an in-house Marketing department, which is somehow different to being in an external agency.
That’s not to say external agencies don’t do that. They do, it’s just that being immersed in a single brand every day does engender the kind of osmosis, which is hard to achieve when you work on a multitude of clients.
For me it was also good to get a fresh insight into the value of great agency partners, because despite having a highly talented in-house team at my disposal, I was reminded that there are things good agencies just do better.
That was almost five years ago when it was still relatively unusual for brands to have in-house agencies.
These days the opposite is true and almost every client we work with at RocketMill has some sort of in-house creative resource.
In my current role as a Creative Director, I have watched the refinement of the in-house model closely, to the point where I believe the combination of the knowledge present within in-house agency teams, combined with the expertise external agencies possess, really is a sweet spot for making the very best work for our clients.
Of course, it’s key to any creative relationship to play to each other’s strengths, and this is what we always try and do when we work alongside our clients in-house creative teams.
For example, I have often found that my opposite number in-house will have a deeper context for a creative assignment than perhaps has been delivered via the traditional agency/client system, and by keeping a line of communication open throughout the creative process the value of that deep knowledge can be key to optimising a brief and its efficacy.
The same goes for brand guidelines, style guides, and tone-of-voice, which may have been authored by members of the current in-house team and will be an invaluable resource for us when it comes to making sure all the work we deliver is on brand from the get-go.
So what does a digital creative team like RocketMill bring to the relationship to co-create the kind of synergy I’m talking about, and lead onto making the most memorable and effective work?
Well, RocketMill has access to a wide range of skill sets that an in-house agency team often doesn’t possess.
The creative team’s model is uniquely poised for concepting and producing effective, fast creative on all platforms. Plugged into an in-house creative team, they use their digital expertise to evolve brand positioning and concept multi-channel campaigns across all stages of the funnel. From that, flexible and versatile production capabilities mean they can cherry pick the best creative talent for the job, and orchestrate it in a way that delivers often hundreds of different assets (automation being a big factor here), for different audiences and different goals, in a time period typically unrivalled by an in-house setup.
The team’s close relationship with the Paid Media department also means they can use their learnings to optimise the work they do and help make them extremely responsive when it comes to changing work if required.
It’s that blend of expertise that makes me feel that the immediate future of Creative has to be a partnership between in-house and digital. Brand integrity + digital/technical brilliance. Attention grabbing, considered creative that can flex to the fluidity of the digital advertising landscape. Get that right, and you’ll be setting yourself up to win everytime.