AdTech/MarTech Development Teams: In-House vs Outsourcing vs Development Partner

get your Lamborghini serviced at a Hyundai dealership, so why get inexperienced developers to build your AdTech or MarTech project?


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Prior to the year 2000, the online advertising and marketing industries were powered by creative thinkers and gifted copywriters. While there’s still a need for these skills when penning advertising and marketing campaigns, the industries are now driven primarily by technology.

Brands and agencies that would traditionally invest in ad men and women are now shifting their financial resources to designing and building advertising and marketing platforms.

For those wanting to do just this or expand their existing tools, there are three main avenues to explore:

  • In-house development team
  • Outsourcing or body-leasing companies
  • A specialized development partner

Let’s take a closer look at these three development options and analyze their advantages and disadvantages.

In-House AdTech/MarTech Development Team

This option involves an AdTech/MarTech vendor, brand, or agency recruiting designers and developers to work directly for the company.

Advantages of In-House Development Teams

Accountability: As the designers and developers are employed directly by the company, there’s a higher level of accountability and motivation to provide a quality AdTech or MarTech platform.

Disadvantages of In-House Development Teams

Cost: Hiring developers directly is a lengthy and costly experience for any company. As represented in this infographic, the average time it takes recruit a new developer is 43 days, with the productivity losses associated with it reaching the tens of thousands. Also, you’ll not only have to pay a large salary during development phases, but also during phases when development is scaled back, such as when the minimum viable product (MVP) is being tested by initial users.

HR issues: Apart from salary issues, you’ll also have to worry about HR-related issues, such as hiring new staff when people leave, managing vacation time, and ensuring you have the right number of required developers at all times.

Quality: Unless you are able to find developers with AdTech and MarTech development experience, the quality of the project may vary.

Outsourcing or Body-Leasing Companies

Outsourcing (also referred to as body-leasing) companies are generally made up of hundreds or even thousands of designers and programmers who can be hired by AdTech/MarTech vendors and agencies to work on their project.

Advantages of Outsourcing or Body-Leasing Companies

Cost: In some cases, hiring developers from an outsourcing company can work out to be cheaper than hiring developers directly. However, this is typically the case with offshore outsourcing rather than with onsite or nearshore outsourcing, as these latter options may work out to be more expensive than direct hires.

Speed of hiring: Usually the outsourcing company will have plenty of developers available for an immediate start.

No HR issues: As you are only paying for the development time of the project, you avoid having to deal with HR problems, such as those mentioned above, as well as legal issues—e.g. work visas or an employee suing your company.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing or Body-Leasing Companies

Quality: One of the main challenges that vendors, brands, and agencies face is finding outsourcing companies with the required skill set and experience in designing, developing, and maintaining advertising and marketing technology. Their inexperience and lack of knowledge of the complex inner workings of the AdTech and MarTech ecosystems can severely impact the quality of the project—if it’s even released at all.

Time to market: Although the time it takes to hire outsourced developers is a lot shorter compared to hiring in-house developers or partnering with a specialized development partner, the actual time it takes to release an AdTech/MarTech platform to initial users will be much longer. The reason for this is because you likely won’t find a developer with domain expertise, meaning they’ll face a steep and lengthy learning curve. This not only extends the time it takes to release the platform on the market, but the project may also face a number of major problems along the way.

Accountability: With large body-leasing companies, the accountability factor is typically much lower than if you hired developers directly or partnered with a smaller, specialized software development house.

Specialized Development Partners

A development partner is a company that specializes in a particular area of software development, such as AdTech and MarTech development. They typically provide full-service development resources, including designers, project managers, front-end and back-end developers, DevOps, and QA and testing specialists.

Advantages of Specialized Development Partners

Quality: As they specialize in a specific area of software development, the quality of the product is going to be a lot higher compared to the quality produced by inexperienced developers—whether they are in-house or outsourced developers. After all, you wouldn’t get your high-performance supercar serviced by an inexperienced mechanic at your local garage, would you?

Domain knowledge: If you have to explain to your in-house or outsourced developers what frequency capping is, what CDP and CRM stand for, or why cookie syncing is important, then you are already behind the eight ball. Finding an AdTech/MarTech development partner that understands how the online advertising and marketing industries work from both fundamental and technical perspectives will mean you won’t have to waste time educating the developers about how AdTech and MarTech work.

Technical resources: A development partner will have all the required resources needed to manage the entire technical side of the project, meaning you can focus on building your business and onboarding new clients.

Time to market: As AdTech and MarTech platforms (such as DSPs, SSPs, CDPs, and CRMs) come with loads of features and require numerous integrations with other systems, it can be hard to identify which features should be built for the MVP. However, an experienced development partner will be able to help you identify which features should be included in the MVP-development phase. They will also propose the ideal tech stack (e.g. frameworks, infrastructure, and programming languages) for the project in the prototyping phase, allowing you to release the first working version of your platform to initial users within the shortest amount of time possible.

Disadvantages of Specialized Development Partners

Cost: Even though they eliminate the disadvantages of the two previous development options, specialized development partners won’t be cheaper than most outsourcing companies and may be around the same mark, or even more expensive, as hiring in-house developers depending on whether your company is located in a high-cost city (e.g. New York, San Francisco, or London) or in a more reasonably priced location. However, as mentioned above, investing a bit more initially and receiving a quality product will save you money in the long run, meaning you will avoid the situation where you are throwing good money after bad.

Here’s an overview of the main advantages and disadvantages of the above development options:

A table that compares the advantages and disadvantages of working with different AdTech and MarTech development teams

About Clearcode

Clearcode is a full-service software development company that specializes in advertising and marketing technology development.

Since 2009, we’ve been a trusted AdTech & MarTech development partner to vendors and agencies, helping them design, build, and maintain RTB, programmatic, data management, and analytics platforms.

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