Who Should You Hire? The Complete Guide to the Different Types of Ad Agencies and What They Can Do for You

types of ad agencies

When you’re getting ready to hire someone to market your website, you’ll discover that there are different types of ad agencies.

Ad agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are global agencies like Ogilvy Advertising and Wieden + Kennedy that employ thousands all over the world. Other agencies have 5-10 employees and work within a local area.

Together, these agencies produce some of the most recognizable campaigns, from Nike’s Just Do It to IBM’s The Voice of Art. Ad agencies have an impact on our culture and how we relate to companies.

Read on to find out what the different types of ad agencies are and how you can hire one for your company.

What Does an Ad Agency Really Do?

Companies often work with ad agencies to drive traffic and conversions to a website. That might fall into a multi-channel campaign that spans TV, radio, and print ads.

Working at an ad agency isn’t really an episode of Mad Men, where guys hang out at bars and schmooze with big clients.

They learn about the target market, work with partners like web developers and the client’s marketing team to develop creative campaigns that help clients reach their goals. Clients will have different needs, ranging from a new product release to brand awareness to increasing sales for a particular product line.

While that may seem glamorous, there’s an intense amount of pressure on agencies to produce results.

As a website developer, you’re under pressure to produce something tangible. That’s a website that the client can see and interact with that will help drive up revenue or leads.

Advertising often seems like throwing money away to the wind because it’s almost impossible to track results from a TV or print ad. It’s much easier to do track results digitally.

That’s how ad agencies are measured. Did they increase brand awareness and/or sales? That’s what clients will look at to determine if they’ll continue to work with that agency or not.

Types of Ad Agencies

When you’re looking to hire an ad agency, which one should you go with? It really depends on you and the goals of your company. One type of agency might be better suited for driving traffic to your website while others are great for doing everything. These are the most common types of ad agencies.

Digital Marketing

A digital ad agency has a focus on everything online. They’ll combine SEO, web development, social media, and content marketing into one complete solution for their clients. As a web developer, you’re likely to partner with digital agencies to create campaigns to drive traffic to a site once it’s built.

Full-Service Ad agency

A full-service ad agency is also known as a traditional ad agency. This is the type of agency straight out of Mad Men, with a modern twist. They do everything creative: radio spots, TV ads, billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, and digital marketing.

Larger companies typically will work with full-service agencies that can offer a wide variety of options to get their message out.

Ecommerce Agency

Ecommerce has grown in recent years, and with it, agencies are starting to pop-up to offer specific services that cater to ecommerce companies.

These agencies will help ecommerce companies get found on Amazon, handle their advertising spend, increase website conversions and more.

There are ecommerce agencies of all sizes and fit all kinds of needs. Some function as full-service agencies that work with mid-large companies, while others work with solopreneurs with small budgets.

In-House Agency

An in-house agency is owned by and works for only one client. In-house agencies were almost unheard of 20 years ago. Today, 64% of corporations have an in-house agency.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Sprint are just a couple of examples of companies to use in-house agencies to cut costs and be more efficient.

Media Buying Ad Agency

A media buying agency focuses on creating advertising plans and buying ad space in different media. They tend to work in tandem with the creative ad agency on a larger campaign.

Boutique Agency

A boutique agency is a way of referring to a smaller agency. They’re smaller but still work with larger regional and national companies work with larger regional companies instead of global brands and have a small list of clients.

For example, this agency is based in San Diego and works with all kinds of brands and offers a full slate of services.

Some companies prefer to work with smaller agencies because they feel that they get more personalized attention than they would at a larger agency.

Social Media Agency

As the name suggests, a social media agency focuses only on social media. When people started to jump on the social media bandwagon around 2009, companies and marketers realized that they presented an opportunity.

These agencies will help companies grow their followers on Twitter and Facebook, or drive traffic with Pinterest.

Hiring an Ad Agency

If you need to hire an agency, how do you know which type of agency you need? It really depends on two things: the marketing goals and the size of the company.

A large, global company needs to have a full-service agency because they need to reach an audience through various media: TV, print, online and more.

A smaller regional company would be better served by a local boutique company that can handle the needs of the company and prepares billboards, local TV and print ads to create a complete campaign.

If the goals of the company are to drive website traffic, then a digital agency would be the best choice for a company.

When you hire an ad agency, you want to be sure that they have plenty of case studies that show how they were able to help their clients grow.

Ad Agencies Help

Understanding the different types of ad agencies is the first step in knowing how to hire the right partner to help you grow your business.

The best agencies are the ones that have a track record of helping clients increase brand awareness and grow revenue.

For more marketing tips, check out this article on testimonial advertising.