A large majority (92%) of chief marketing officers (CMOs) from around the world said they plan to maintain or increase their digital and programmatic capabilities internally, according to the Dentsu Aegis Network’s annual CMO study.

The survey questioned 1,000 CMO across ten markets, including the UK, US, China and Australia. According to the study, 58% said they are likely to bring more of their digital capabilities in-house within the next two to three years. 

Breaking down the findings, the intentions were most pronounced across the energy (69%), technology (67%) and telecoms (64%) categories. Conversely, senior marketers in the retail and finance sectors are least likely to consider moving capabilities in-house.

However, despite the increase in in-house responsibilities, 40% of CMOs still plan to spend more with agencies. Just 6% expect to do less work with them.

Senior marketers in automotive (57%) and telecoms (54%) plan to increase work with agencies while pharmaceutical companies (28%) and media and entertainment brands (32%) are planning on bolstering agency spend.

Complex relationship

Although agencies appear to be in most marketing plans, the CMOs in control suggests a different outcome when it comes to the relationship. 

Just below half (43%) of CMOs agree that agencies do a good job of providing fully integrated solutions, while only 36% believe agencies are ‘good’ collaborators when it comes to driving long-term executions as core strengths offered include consumer insight, bringing creativity to the table and giving access to talent.

“Much has been made of the changing marketing landscape and potential risks for agencies. In the end, though, it’s not the scale of these investments that matters, but what marketers do with them. That creates a huge opportunity for agencies, and this data reflects how we are meeting that need,” said Will Swayne, global president client solutions at Dentsu Aegis Network.

Direct-to-platform grow more popular

Marketers’ attention to social media advertising and direct-to-platform relationships shows no sign of waiving – potentially at a cost for agencies – with half (50%) of CMOs planning to increase direct spending with the likes of Facebook, Google, Tencent and WeChat over the next two to three years.

The report also revealed that 79% of CMOs believe they must invest and use digital platforms to both optimise and transform their businesses, with 80% urging to take greater responsibility for product and service innovation in the next two to three years.

Nevertheless, in spite of such seemingly long-term considerations, nearly half of CMOs reported their marketing strategies are only planned ahead for no longer than two years, indicating a short-term outlook. Meanwhile, 64% of senior marketers expect to experience more pressure from their boards and shareholders to provide short-term, demonstrable ROIs in the next two to three years.