What does in-housing really mean? It depends who you ask.
Advertiser Perceptions polled 700 US marketers in May and found that there's debate on how to define in-housing. Respondents were evenly split between three options: working with a demand-side platform (DSP) and agency, working with just a DSP or managing campaigns internally through enterprise software.
The survey indicates that marketers are not always on the same page when they discuss in-housing. This may be why studies on the subject show such varying results.
In August 2017, Infectious Media surveyed 200 brand advertisers worldwide and found that only 1.4% of those polled manage their programmatic campaigns under their own roof. This May, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a report in which two-thirds of the 119 US brand advertisers surveyed reported moving their programmatic buying completely or partially in-house.
The IAB's study had a different sample and came out nearly a year after the Infectious Media survey, so in-house adoption rates were likely higher at the time it was published. But the results are so disparate that they underscore the different ways advertisers perceive in-housing.
Among those executing programmatic buying in-house in the IAB survey, 58% still outsource their buying to a DSP that is operated by their agency. These advertisers are taking ownership of paperwork with their DSP buying platforms, and taking on the responsibility of checking their agency’s ad spend figures when they pay their DSP invoices. But they’re not building tech or executing the buys themselves, so it is a matter of opinion whether or not they are in-housing.
Like so many other jargony terms in ad tech, the meaning marketers attach to in-housing is imprecise and evolving.