The Typical Structure of an Advertising Agency


Advertising agencies always seem to find a way to evolve to meet industry needs. While handling various aspects of advertising, promotion, and even marketing, these agencies’ typical structure hasn’t changed all that much, however.

Whether large or small, advertising agencies typically have three main sections or divisions–account services, creative teams, and media specialists. These may be called by other names in different agencies, but their functions are generally the same.


Account Services

The Account Services team acts as the contact and relationship building aspect of the agency. The team manages client relationships by bringing new clients in and also retaining the ones they already have. In larger agencies, there may be account directors, account executives, and even account assistants. For smaller agencies, staff may all have equal footing.

Account planning is another significant function of this group. This includes developing an overall advertising strategy, which requires in-depth research and high-level discussions with clients.

Another vital task is the all-important creative brief, which is used to guide the creative team. This brief includes background information provided by the client, the purpose or objective(s) of the advertising project, identification of the target audience, and any consumer insights and facts. The creative brief concludes with a set of deliverables, and usually a timeframe for completion.

Once completed, this brief isn’t just handed off to the creative team and forgotten. Account Services coordinates with the agency’s other teams and stays involved throughout the entire process.


Creative Team

The Creative Team is the group that develops the actual advertisements. Clients look to agencies for print campaigns for billboards, magazines, and newspapers, as well as television and radio spots. This requires a diverse group of creative people to accomplish, and advertising agencies are full of them.

The creative team may consist of a copy department for creating the message, an art department to develop the look and design, and a production department to take both the message and design into the final stage.

Each of these creative team types has to transform the client’s needs and wishes into something new. They prepare layouts, storyboards, and create visuals for the client to review. They all come together for brainstorming sessions to find the right solution.

In the end, these wordsmiths and artists combine their talents and skills to create and develop something spectacular.


Media Specialists

Media Specialists are responsible for selecting the media outlets for each client and project. This starts with learning the specific details of each product or service, analyzing the market competition, and studying current media trends. They will also look at what has and has not worked in the past, and discover new ways of getting the message out. This group will consider the client’s advertising budget and work within those parameters in the best way possible. Long and short-term media plans, scheduling, and monitoring are also part of this group’s functions.

While the creative team’s slogan and design may be top-notch, if it’s not placed in the right medium to reach the right target audience, it will fail. Thus, media specialists are often on the hot seat.

Another aspect these days is that online campaigns are taking the lead in many areas. These are usually led by digital or interactive agencies. While account services and creative teams are still needed, a digital marketing agency might be structured differently from the standard advertising agency. This is because they spend a high percentage of their time conducting data-driven analysis to determine what is working and where.

While all three sections have their own specialties and roles within the agency, they come together to ensure the success of the client. As you can see, nothing could be accomplished without some type of account management, creative talent, and media specialization, making them all equally important.

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