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Has COVID-19 Made Marketers More Creative?

A recent survey of over 200 senior European marketers highlights the reasons behind a spike in creativity within in-house teams.

Lamp highlighting a different coloured scrap of paper

COVID-19 has had us all taking on new projects and hobbies while being locked away in our homes. Some of us have become expert knitters, bakers, and photographers.

According to a recent survey from Bannerflow and Digiday, creativity is also spiking in our work, at least among in-house teams.

The State Of In-Housing Survey Methodology

The survey consisted of over 200 senior European marketers with the following sample sizes:

Survey sample

From twelve sectors:

Survey Sample

COVID-19 And In-House Teams

The sweet spot in regards to in-house team size when it comes to weathering a pandemic seems to consist of between six to ten people:

In-house team sizes

And it’s these teams that have seen growth despite COVID-19, with 62% adding a further one or two employees to their headcount.

Smaller companies have sadly felt the COVID-19 pinch the most, with 56% of smaller teams losing between one or two employees last year.

While these in-house teams are growing, their agency spend is decreasing. Since the start of COVID-19, 65% of brands that increased their in-house teams by three to five people have also pulled back on their agency spend.

Marketers need to get results now more than ever, and it seems that putting more onus on in-house employees has sparked creativity.

What else has gotten in-house creative juices flowing?

Increased Curiosity

How teams have become more creative

Curiosity was the main reason participants believe their team has become more creative over the last year. The second biggest reasons being the development of new skills and being more vocal in ideation.

The ‘Age’ Of The In-House Team

Senior marketers who built their in-house teams within the last twelve months noticed a 67% spike in team creativity.

Comparatively, in-house teams created more than twelve months ago noticed a 49% increase, and 15% of older in-house teams reported less creativity.

With that said, 67% of senior marketers with an older team reported a positive impact on ROI, compared to 60% of those with newer teams.

The In-House Model

Types of in-house models

In-house teams with total digital marketing competency have specified that COVID-19 has improved creativity, according to 65% of survey respondents.

Comparatively, in-house teams with a traditional and hybrid set-up saw creativity increases of 54% and 55%, respectively.

A Heavier Reliance On Technology

Additional reasons cited for the increase in creativity were collaborative technologies, the flexibility to pivot to different media, and increased ‘team togetherness.’

Not only are 58% of teams utilizing data more now, 55% believe that technology is a key reason for the boost in creativity:

Technology use in-house

Barriers To Creativity

Creativity in-house

A mere 11% of participants specified that their team was less creative since bringing their efforts in-house, and 33% haven’t noticed a change at all.

Considering the drastic impact COVID-19 has had on everyone’s mental wellbeing, these numbers may not look that bad; however, it’s worth considering the barriers to creativity in-house teams are facing so that remedies can be actioned.

Lack of Funding

Funding to build a competent in-house team was cited as one of the top barriers, both for brands whose in-house teams were created within the last twelve months and for older teams.

Communication Problems

Senior marketers with both old and new in-house teams reported struggling to communicate the purpose of in-housing and achieve buy-in.

The instability of COVID-19 may cause some brand-owners to be more risk-averse when it comes to moving their operations in-house.

Lack of Knowledge

A lack of understanding surrounding buying programmatically is yet another barrier to building an in-house team.

The Bottom Line

Just shy of two-thirds of survey participants revealed that moving to an in-house team has directly impacted their ROI, with 10% stating that there was no visible change at all.

ROI stemming from in-housing has risen by 5% compared to the 2020 report. Whether COVID-19 was an influence is hard to say; however, if the pandemic did have a negative effect, it wasn’t enough to cause a decline.

Whether brand owners are already on a trajectory to expand their in-house team or are considering moving their operations, this survey highlights the potential benefits.

Rebekah Dunne Content executive & SEJ news writer at Sweet Digital

Rebekah has six years experience in the world of digital. When she isn’t writing news stories for Search Engine Journal ...

Has COVID-19 Made Marketers More Creative?

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