Agency partnerships have always been defined by the focus of marketing. In the 1990s, guerilla tactics and going against traditional formats of advertising were on trend. In the early 2000s, marketing strategies were built around creating digital experiences – first through websites, and then on user-based platforms of social media and video.

As we enter a new age of engagement, marketers building agency models are tasked with constructing partnership ecosystems that run on the rails of data and technology. The focus for brands will be on how to integrate specialized technical capability while maintaining the magic of creativity, innovation, and human emotion.

Loss in efficiency is the risk of complexity. However, we believe that the secrets to successful integrated partnerships are based on constant fundamentals applied in new ways. We hope this report will be the beginning of new conversations and explorations, and a roadmap to future client-agency partnerships.


The Role of the Marketer as Conductor

While agencies are still engaged, marketers are relying on in-housing, platforms and other partners to get work done. The inclusion of additional external partners into the agency ecosystem has been driven by the need for innovative and cost-efficient ways to produce the high-volumes of content and assets required by digital-first, always-on consumers. As the number of partners grow, marketers face the challenge of aligning varied partners towards a common a goal.

The Roles of Global and Local

With emphasis on real-time content for personalized consumer journeys, the role of local markets is getting more prominent. To ensure that stakeholders work from the same playbook, clear articulation of roles and responsibilities is critical. Global teams need to stay focused on governance, while local teams amplify and activate.

The Role of In-House Agencies

Over half of brands now in-house agencies, but 95% continue to work with agencies (WFA). When considering what services gets in-housed, marketers should prioritize what services are most critical to the organization. Careful consideration needs to be given to internal ability to nurture existing talent, the different types of technology required to do the work, and how overall operational costs compare to existing agency fees.

The Role of Data In Innovation

True data-led innovation can be challenging. It involves acquiring personal identifiers, enriching online and offline identities, and activating that data to deliver one-on-one personalized communications and experiences at scale. Brands deploy various strategies and tactics, but every “customer obsessed” brand leverages these data strategy fundamentals at their core.


R3 is a leader in global, regional and local consulting on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of marketers and their agencies. We work with twelve of the world’s top twenty marketers including Unilever, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Colgate, Procter & Gamble, BMW, Intel and Shell.


R3 combines extensive insights with proprietary processes for ensuring the most effective and efficient outcomes with emerging marketing technology partners.

  • Review
    We help marketers find, pay, and keep the best possible agency relationships. We take the lead on improving the integration process through proprietary software and consulting.
  • Remuneration
    We offer professional analysis of the media process, planning and buying with proprietary benchmarks, and tools to set and measure performance. We conduct financial audits to validate and benchmark transparency.
  • Relationships
    Using a bespoke methodology, we help benchmark and provide insights into how your digital strategies perform in your category and across categories.