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More digital agency professionals moving client-side

As digital marketing more becomes central to many UK firms, the hunt for appropriately-skilled workers is underway, with competition for talented people in this sector increasingly fierce.

Whilst many organisations had previously outsourced aspects of their digital activity to creative and digital agencies, in recent months there has been an increased shift in organisations beginning to build their own digital marketing teams in-house.

Ironically, the professionals being brought to companies are often picked up from the very digital agencies that were previously used to fulfil their digital needs. Although this doesn't mean that external experts are no longer needed, it does show businesses are trying to move away from reliance on this kind of guidance.

By putting their own experts in place, organisations can undertake much of the work without the requirement of agencies, but in cases where they do still require the expertise and resource of an external agency they have the right professionals on-board to ensure projects are carried out and executed as efficiently as possible. 

With Google's recent algorithm changes even more focus is being placed on marketers that can produce unique, industry-specific content, which is far easier from an internal perspective.

Furthermore, moving digital in-house can offer companies more autonomy over their plans and flexibility to make quick changes. The tendency towards doing this highlights the fact that this area has now become a necessity rather than a flashy extra.

Big businesses to take this approach in recent months include sportswear giant Nike, which decided to create a new social media team rather than rely on support from digital agencies.

For digital agency professionals there are potential benefits to working clientside - some digital experts wish to focus on one specific brand rather than spreading their focus across a number of different areas, while others feel more opportunities for progression will present themselves.

With more and more digital work being done in-house, particularly in areas such as paid search, retargeting and real-time bidding (RTB), businesses are looking out for a specific set of skills from potential hires, even those who have proven agency experience.

Fundamentally, businesses will need hands-on experience with complex processes such as RTB, PPC, conversion rate optimisation and search engine optimisation, and finding potential hires with this kind of knowledge is crucial if they are not to lose out when transferring their digital operations to in-house.

But how can they do this effectively? There is certainly an element of risk involved - if a digital team is built badly, companies could end up falling behind their competitors in this regard. While attempting to move away from a reliance on agencies is an admirable aim, it can also make businesses acutely aware of how much expertise they are lacking.

Furthermore, as the demand for in-house digital specialists increases the pool of available talent continues to become limited. Organisations need to think about how they can attract the digital talent of the future to grow their digital function, either through internal talent mapping or partnering with specialist digital recruiters.

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