Ad agency

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Short for 'advertising agency' is a business organization with purpose of promotion, marketing, and public relations. Ad agencies employ a wide range of talents and skill sets with a general goal of providing a full-service to their client. The strategy is that a client should not need to go outside of the relationship to obtain a particular format of communication.

To that end, an agency will have a core set of services, and will hire contractors to cover the services that are not part of their standard business offering.

Note: some ad agencies specialize in a particular service and are sometimes called a Design Boutique.

Core Service Offering

Products that are offered and considered a main-stay resource for all clients. Core services tend to be presented and promoted aggressively with any of their own advertising. Generally, core services are accomplished through a team or multiple teams that are comprised of a similar skill with varied levels of expertise.

Examples of Core Services include
  • Television Advertising and/or commercials
  • Internet Advertising and/or banners
  • Newspaper, Magazine and publication advertisements
  • Campaign Web sites
  • Consumer/Ecommerce website design
  • Brochures, Catalogs, and printed pieces
  • Business cards, Letter head, and collateral
  • Brands
  • iPhone application development
  • Web site usability testing
  • Social media integration & games
  • Flash development

Secondary Service Offering

In order to remain flexible with the market needs and/or with their clients, they are often called to provide a service not expressly in their core offering. The focus is less about being a leader in these fields, but more that they can provide integrated solutions that combines secondary and core offerings into a unified service. Secondary services are generally out-sourced to design boutique or dev house. Sometimes a a temporary contractor is hired

Note: Some ad agencies will develop a niche specialization which mean that some of the services that are secondary for most, become a core offering. The most recent field has been usability

Examples of Secondary Services


While ad agencies often develop their own way of hiring staff, there are a couple of trends that can be seen amongst the larger agencies.

Closed Job Pool

Ad agencies have over time, developed a specialized set of cultural and professional requirements. So specific are the needs, that professionals often develop a dedication. Professionals who work in ad agencies tend to work only for ad agencies. When they might leave an agency, generally it is to join another ad agency. Thus the market becomes closed to professionals who lack ad agency experience. It also means, that the finite pool.

Creative Management

Ad agencies often times hire and promote individuals with the ability to communicate and express ideas to clients. They tend to manage creative teams, and often times create the initial design concept. While they tend to be a mixture of skill set, they are generally serve as the center piece of any service.

Committed Subordinate

While management tend to provide high-level vision of a creative direction, the subordinates are tasked with the responsibility to complete the service in its entirety. Working as a subordinate in an agency can be considered extremely difficult, since it requires sacrifice of all other activities, sleep, relationships, lifestyles.

Common Markets

Though each ad agency develops a specific range of clients, there tends to be a trend in the fields they serve. These markets have over time developed dependency on ad agencies to provide core services.

Common Markets can include
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Consumer Brands
  • Consumer Manufacturers
  • Television & Film
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes
  • Automotive
  • Retail clothing
  • Retail fashion
  • Insurance
  • Banking & consumer financial services

Specialized Markets

There are times when an ad agency develops a specialty regarding a specific market. They are able to gain pronounced success by understanding business goals comprehensively, as well as match the tone and culture.

Specialty Markets can include:

  • Government
  • Education
  • Health/medical
  • Military/Defense
  • Security/Compliance
  • Merchant Banking & Wealth Management
  • Mechanical/Fabrication
  • Pharmaceuticals

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