Businesses are moving to exert greater control over their own marketing strategies in the next five years, a trend that will see them gradually reduce their reliance on dedicated agency partners.

A new report from the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) and MediaSense has indicated that marketers are increasingly focused on becoming more self-reliant and agile, which could lead to significant evolution in the way they conduct their communications between now and 2020.

MediaSense partnered with Ipsos Connect to conduct a series of in-depth interviews, as well as an extensive survey, among 200 senior marketing and media decision-makers between March and July 2015, in order to gauge how they are preparing for what is expected to be significantly altered media environment in 2020.

It was revealed that 54 per cent of marketers said they expect to bring a number of functions previously outsourced to agencies in-house by the start of the next decade, with 58 per cent agreeing that the number of agencies they work with will likely decline over the next five years.

Although nine out of ten respondents are comfortable that media agencies will remain their first port of call for paid media, 73 per cent said they will increasingly contract directly with media owners and technology companies by 2020.

Moreover, eight out of ten marketers believe that creative agencies will remain the go-to option for big creative ideas, but nearly 60 per cent anticipate that content development functions will move in-house or to alternative agencies during the coming half-decade.

Although the marketers polled in the study were generally at different points in their evolutions, they generally agreed on which disciplines and functions would be most important to their success between now and 2020. Just over two-thirds – 67 per cent – pointed to data analytics and insight as the key, with 50 per cent citing content development and 43 per cent indicating omni-channel planning as the main area of focus.

Meanwhile, when asked about the most important challenges they will face over the next five years, there was strong agreement that performance measurement was a top priority, with 65 per cent of marketers identifying the use of outcome-based key performance indicators to match investment decisions to business results as vital.

Additionally, 76 per cent agreed that performance target-based remuneration will become even more important in 2020, indicating that efforts will be made by businesses to directly reward marketing staff members who are able to provide them with the forward-thinking approach to communications that they will require.

Graham Brown, Director and Founder of global media advisory firm at MediaSense, said: “To be ready for 2020, marketers should exercise much greater control over their ecosystem, but this is not the reality for vast majority of companies, who are and will continue to be overly dependent on their agencies for the foreseeable future. All marketing organisations should have a plan to ensure they have the optimal blend of capabilities (people, systems, processes and technologies) to enable them to succeed in 2020, irrespective of whether those resources are bought or rented.”

Greater self-reliance, new agency models and performance-based metrics are top priorities as CMOs prepare for 2020, ISBA