Liberty Mutual slashed its agency costs 30% by bringing 80% of its creative work in-house


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  • Insurance giant Liberty Mutual has brought its creative, digital media planning and buying, consumer insights, and data analytics functions in house.
  • It has seen tangible benefits from the investment, said CMO Emily Fink, with 80% of its creative work now being produced internally and its agency fees being slashed by almost 30%.
  • The company created a marketing training program for employees and innovation labs to keep up with emerging trends.

As brands seek cost-effectiveness, transparency, and control over customer data, they have been taking marketing duties in house, ranging from data insights and creative to media-planning and buying.

Liberty Mutual is one of them, and has seen tangible benefits from doing so, Emily Fink, the company’s chief marketing officer, told Business Insider. 

“Insurance is a very competitive category, and as it becomes increasingly commoditized, it’s important that we’re able to operate in a really cost-effective way,” said Fink.

Over the past few years, the insurance giant has built its own digital media planning and buying, consumer insights, and data analytics teams. It’s also set up a creative agency called Copper Giants.

Liberty Mutual has slashed its agency fees 30% 

Read More: Brands continue to take their advertising in-house at an unprecedented rate — and it’s terrible news for ad agencies

Liberty Mutual now produces 80% of its creative work — including the social and digital assets used in its latest TV campaign — in-house. This change let the company work faster and cut its agency fees by nearly 30%, according to the company.

“It costs us about half as much, and they do it in about half the time that it took to do work with outside agencies,” Fink told Business Insider. “It has been both efficient and effective.”

The creative team uses the data and insights from the other teams to inform its work. While the consumer insights team gathers quantitative and qualitative insights of consumers and its category, the analytics group uses that data to optimize its ad spend. 

Before taking its latest set of ads to market, for example, Liberty Mutual tested them with about 18,000 consumers to test ad recall and brand association. 

“It puts everyone across the company on the same page, because it’s not like we’re working with one outside vendor and they just work with one person in marketing,” said Fink. “Everybody in the company is operating off the same set of data and insights, and that enables faster decisions as a company, and makes us more integrated across the groups.”

Liberty Mutual also handles its digital media planning and buying in-house.

“There are a lot of digital tools, like Kenshoo for search, for example, that just allow you to do a lot more on your own as a company where you might have historically relied on an agency,” said Fink.

Liberty still uses agencies selectively

Fully 78% of brands that are members of the Asssociation of National Advertisers reported in 2018 that they had some form of an in-house agency. 

Liberty Mutual still uses some outside agencies. San Francisco-based Goodby Silverstein & Partners was behind the creative concept and TV and online videos for its latest “LiMu Emu & Doug” campaign, for example.

“Our agency brings to the table a very deep understanding of the consumer, and a very deep understanding of the products,” said Fink. “When they bring such a strong value proposition to the table, and can effectively partner with an inside group and make the inside group more effective too, then they definitely have nothing to worry about.”

To build in-house expertise, Liberty Mutual created a marketing training program and innovation labs called Solaria in Boston, Singapore and Brazil to study trends like the connected home and the future of mobility. 

The training program blends external and internal resources, and is designed to keep employees engaged and up to speed. If they are learning search advertising, for example, the company will bring in an expert to train them in Google Adwords, but also train them in Liberty Mutual’s own practices.

“We know it’s important to keep everybody at the top of their game, especially if they’re not working on multiple brands the way they might be at an outside agency,” said Fink.

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