One of the best ways to understand how the advertising world functions is to understand how an advertising agency works. We already know that there are many different types of advertising agencies. Some agencies may have hundreds of employees whereas others may not have so many. This leads to bigger advertising agencies being divided into departments specialising in very specific parts of the advertising process. Smaller companies on the other hand usually combine roles and departments to best utilise their resources and facilities.
Most advertising agency departments can be classified into 7 main categories:
Account / Client Servicing:
The account servicing or client servicing team is one of the most important departments within the advertising agency. This is the team which directly communicates with the client. They are responsible for understanding the client’s brief and coordinating work between the media and creative teams.
The team consists of an account director at the top who oversees the entire enterprise while account managers and account executives handle the everyday operation of the business. They maintain relationships with the executives of the client company, develop strategies to meet the client’s needs and oversee the working of the departments concerned with the account. In many ways, the account servicing team is the face of the agency as they are the ones who develop plans aimed at fulfilling a client’s business requirements and needs.
The main role of an account planner is to use planning and research to gain insights on how the customer is perceiving a brand’s campaign. They are the people who are up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and provide strategic direction for their client’s campaign through focus groups.
In larger companies, there is a separate department for account planning which consists of account managers and researchers. In smaller companies, the account manager and account executive role is combined with the role of an account planner.
The creative department of an advertising agency is responsible for developing and designing the campaign for the client across various mediums. Their job is to come up with ideas which create a demand for the customer’s product within their target audience.
The creative team consists of many departments such as copywriting, graphic designing, editing and web development. Heading these departments is the creative director who is responsible for the creativity and quality of work going to be put forth to the client. Under him lie the directors of each of the departments who specialise in certain areas of the creative process. For example, the copy director and the art director are responsible for copy and designing respectively.
After the proposal for a project has been approved, the client servicing team provides the creative team with a brief that highlights the requirements of the client. The creative team then discusses and finalises on a concept, which is then given to the designing and copywriting divisions. They then make the final advertisement and give it to the account planners who test its effectiveness.
In an advertising agency, the media buying team makes sure all the advertisements appear at the correct time in the correct place. They are the ones responsible for ensuring that ad space has been bought for the campaign in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, digital media, and outdoor media. The media team works very closely with the client servicing and creative teams to determine how and what kind of exposure the client needs for an effective campaign. The department generally consists of a group of media executives led by a media manager.
Certain large ad organisations such as full-service agencies may contain an in-house production department to handle the execution of the client’s campaign. The production team’s main responsibility is the campaign’s logistics. They are the ones who are responsible for tasks such as setting schedules, talking to printers, photoshoots and hiring directors for videos and commercials. They work very closely with the media-buying team to make sure a campaign idea is successfully executed.
In smaller agencies, the job of the production unit may be outsourced to an external agency or combined with the media buying team’s role.
There is no denying the importance of the HR department in any business. Like in any other organisation, the HR department monitors the hiring and firing of employees, sick leaves, and the overall well-being of the office. They also ensure that all processes are carried out by the company is in line with state and national regulations. The Human resources department generally consists of HR managers who report to the head of HR.
All monetary transactions of the advertising agency go through this department. The finance division is responsible for handling staff payments, vendor costs, day-to-day expenses, employee benefits and any other cost that may be borne by the advertising agency.
A finance manager and finance executives/accountants generally head the department.