Are we looking at another rise in 'inhousing'?
Mathias Upton-Hansen charts new trends in the creative industries
Even in the midst of their current business changes, WPP’s opinion still carries weight in the creative industries.
When recently asked about where he sees the business in three years’ time, one of the advertising group’s new joint COO’s, Mark Read, said he saw it becoming more diverse and motivated as a group of people, more involved in data and technology, and crucially, having “more of them located on client sites, in client offices.”
A much closer, more embedded approach to creative service offerings is not something which is unique to WPP, either three years from now or right this moment. Many in media and the creative spaces have been spotting a trend emerging for some time now, that of increasing outsourcing of certain creative functions by large, content rich businesses.
There are many drivers behind these moves. One of the biggest - as always - has to be client budgets. Time and again the industry bellwethers have seen client budgeting focusing more on ROI, fuelled by internet advertising’s measurability and transparency in delivering the right messages to the right people, in the right way.
When you layer on the economic uncertainty lurking on the horizon behind Brexit, it seems entirely natural that larger businesses are seeking the most efficient and cost-effective ways of getting the best possible content to their audiences.
Behind this measurability of online is another major driver behind a need for creative insourcing - volume. This is something we see within major broadcasters in particular. With each property, whether kids, drama, or comedy, we’re now seeing a massive uptick in the amount of associated content required beyond the show itself.
From promos to sizzle reels and spin off content videos, there is high demand for associated, high quality video. At Blacklist Creative we see some of the greatest demands here from children’s programming, where the audiences have an almost insatiable appetite for more and more videos associated to their favourite characters, all accessible at a click or a swipe.
Ofcom research saw online overtake TV as children’s primary pastime two years ago, and programme creators are of course keen to keep up with the pace of this demand with favourite characters and programming.
This in turn creates an issue for the content creators – it is increasingly important that these videos are high quality and reflective of the core programme quality, otherwise you may risk weakening the brand itself.
When you add to this demand the fact that this content may also need to be localised to suit the many countries a broadcast property is syndicated to, those video demands grow exponentially and bringing with them the additional complexities of dubbing and language nuances.
It’s no wonder that the traditional broadcasting production houses may need to look elsewhere to keep up with these demands on their time and for their programming. Similar issues of course arise in global ad and media campaigns - the sheer volume of content to be produced and manipulated across a suite of different channels can be bewildering.
Faced with the challenge of volume, quality, and also maintaining focus on production on the core asset itself, whether a traditional TV programme or global media campaign, outsourcing to trusted external partners is a simple way of lightening the load.
Of course, taking the WPP viewpoint, it helps to build much stronger, deeper, bonds between content production or creative house and the client too. This dedication to get closer to the client, even to the point of effectively embedding a creative team within the organisation themselves or acting as an arm of their video production and marketing departments, works well for both sides.
For those in media, it serves to discourage churn and the volatility experiences by the creative industries in recent times. So outsourcing certain inhouse processes is a win/win for all concerned, providing the fit is right between agency and brand - where the tone of voice, focus for the creative brief and approach to delivering quality content is a shared one.
So as WPP’s Mark has rightly suggested, the act of having a far closer client relationship where the phrase ‘we’re an extension of the client’s creative process’ is more than an aspiration, it is a genuine reflection of reality is likely on the cards for many in media and production.
For some this may require shifts in their established models to achieve. It will also take a great injection of trust in the supplier-client relationship from the outset. But its likely to deliver better quality, better understanding, better working relationships and ultimately, better content for the demanding audience as a result.
Isn’t that all anyone working in media production and creatives spaces can ask for?
Mathias Upton-Hansen is co-founder Blacklist Creative