Advertising Agencies: An Overview

It would almost be a moot point to state the importance of advertising in today’s world.
From television and digital media ads to the pamphlets in the supermarket, we are bombarded with new and different types of advertisements every day. In fact, it would be fair to say that very idea of advertising has rapidly evolved and become more complicated in the last few decades, given the various mediums through which it’s become possible to reach out to people.

One of the best ways way to understand this change is to look at the typical advertising agency. As an advertising and branding agency ourselves, we’ll run you through the basics, explaining what an advertising agency is, what it does and how it functions.

What is an advertising agency?
An advertising agency is an organization that creates, plans and executes a client’s advertising strategy along with certain other marketing activities.
However, it would be wrong to classify all agencies under the same category. There are many different types of agencies catering to different functions. For example, some agencies specialize in only a specific form of advertising. An example of this would be a digital agency – an organization that only concentrates on promoting its client’s interests in the digital medium. These types of agencies are generally hired by clients when only a specific advertising solution is required.
Other agencies provide an entire range of services to help their clients across various mediums. Examples of such companies would be full-service agencies, which create both offline and online assets such as logos, brochures, videos, TVCs, and videos for their customers. Clients generally prefer these sorts of establishments for large projects such as campaigns.

Advertising agency services:
There’s no doubting that the list of services provided by an advertising agency is very vast. Despite this complexity, these services can be classified into three main categories:

  • Above the Line Advertising (ATL):Above the line advertising is a form of marketing which uses mass media to reach a large and diverse audience to promote a company or organization. Its main aim is brand building and this sort of advertising mainly focuses on getting the word out through very visible channels such as TV campaigns, radio, outdoor advertising, magazine and newspaper ads. ATL communication is the more conventional form of advertising.
  • Below the Line Advertising (BTL):
    Below-the-line advertising consists of very specific, memorable and direct advertising strategies that are focused on a target audience. Unlike ATL advertising, BTL activities focus on conversions rather than brand building. One of the biggest advantages of using this kind of advertising is that it creates a personal connection with customers which could lead to repeat sales. An example of this would be social media marketing which allows companies to interact with their audiences directly forming another possible sales channel. Other examples of BTL activities include in-store marketing, brochures, flyers and direct mail marketing.
  • Through the Line Advertising (TTL):
    Through the line advertising combines the best parts of the worlds of ATL and BTL advertising. This form of advertising works on the principle of creating campaigns that are made with the vision of brand building and conversions. An example of this would be engaging an audience at different points (i.e. through a television commercial, flyers, social media) where consistent messaging leads to brand perception and eventually more leads.

Roles in an Advertising Agency:
The advertising agency can be broken down into several divisions. Most advertising agencies consist of teams each dedicated to a certain task or function. Some of the most common roles include client servicing and the creative teams.

The client servicing team are the main point of contact between the client and the advertising agency. They’re the people who communicate with the client, understand their needs, connect with the creative teams and oversee the final work. They consist of account executives who are headed by an accounts director.

At the heart of advertising agency is the creative team consisting of copywriters, designers, art directors and creative directors. They’re the team responsible for conceptualizing and designing the final assets that need to be placed in various forums.

Bigger agencies may also have additional divisions such as media buying, planning and social media depending on the company’s function, size and revenue.
Some agencies also work with freelance copywriters and/or freelance graphic designers who usually do not work on-site. More often these days, smaller ad agencies will grow and shrink based on client projects, employing contractors to work on an hourly, daily, or project-by-project basis.