An advertising agency or ad agency is a service business dedicated to creating, planning and handling advertising (and sometimes other forms of promotion) for their clients. An ad agency is independent from the client and provides an outside point of view to the effort of selling the client’s products or services. An agency can also handle overall marketing and branding strategies and sales promotions for its clients.
Typical ad agency clients include businesses and corporations, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Agencies may be hired to produce single ads or, more commonly, ongoing series of related ads, called an advertising campaign.
Ad agencies come in all sizes, from small one- or two-person shops to large multi-national, multi-agency conglomerates such as Omnicom Group or WPP Group.
Some agencies specialize in particular types of advertising, such as print ads or television commercials. Other agencies, especially larger ones, produce work for many types of media (creating integrated marketing communications, or through-the-line (TTL) advertising). The “line”, in this case, is the traditional marker between media that pay a (traditionally 15%) commission to the agency (mainly broadcast media) and the media that do not.
Lately, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms have been classified by some as ‘agencies’ due to the fact that they are creating media and implementing media purchases of text based (or image based in some instances of search marketing) ads. This relatively young industry has been slow to adopt the term ‘agency’ however with the creation of ads (either text or image) and media purchases they do qualify technically as an ‘advertising agency’ as well as recent studies suggest that both SEO and SEM are set to outpace magazine spending in the next 3-5 years.
Not all advertising is created by agencies. Companies that create and plan their own advertising are said to do their work in house.
- American Association of Advertising Agencies
- World Federation of Advertisers
- Adforum you can view advertising print work and spots
- Research Company Evaluating the Media Agency Industry