Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants

What’s the role of today’s advertising agency?

Role of Todays Advertising Agency

This post is by Stephan Argent, CEO of Argedia Group and a member of the Marketing FIRST Forum, the global consulting collective co-founded by TrinityP3

Here’s a thorny question for you – what’s the role of today’s advertising agency?

Depending on the set-up of your internal marketing teams, the answer can take many forms and, if you’re like most marketers, the answer could include some (or all) of the following:

  • Strategy planning and development
  • Research
  • Brand and campaign development
  • Promotions
  • Advertising production across multiple media
  • Testing and measurement
  • Media planning and buying

Even Wikipedia defines the role of the ad agency in very familiar terms – “a service business dedicated to creating, planning and handling advertising for its clients…

The world has changed

The reality is, the world’s changed and marketers have had to rethink why they hire ad agencies and the roles they want them to play in their businesses.  Only then are marketers really able to define the success metrics that matter and partner with the right agency(s) that make the most sense for their individual needs.

Darren Woolley from our partners at Trinity P3 in Australia, encapsulates the issue as follows:

The role of agencies has diversified along with the diversification of the marketing options. In the Mad Men era, the agency was the marketer’s partner. They took responsibility for developing strategy, conceiving campaign ideas, executing production and media, and managing the process for the marketer. But now the marketer has many specialist agencies…”

And it’s that diversification of marketing options and possibilities that’s at the heart of the challenge facing marketers and their relationships with their agencies today. Many marketers still define the role of their ad agencies in traditional terms without thinking about how they’ll collaborate with the other – specialized – agencies they’ve hired to address new opportunities like Social Media.

Defining the role of your agency(s) more clearly

In many cases the role of an agency evolves organically, rather than being planned and managed which can lead to stress and frustration on both sides.  So if that’s got you thinking, here are ten questions to consider to help define the role of your agency(s) more clearly:

  1. Does the agency have a clear understanding of your objectives?
  2. Do your internal teams have a clear understanding of the agency’s mandate?
  3. Has the role of the agency evolved since you hired them as a result of new marketing channels?
  4. Have your marketing requirements changed or evolved significantly since you hired your agency(s)?
  5. If you have multiple agencies – are boundaries and responsibilities clearly defined?
  6. Are your agencies collaborating or are they working in silos?
  7. Are you frustrated that your agency(s) aren’t addressing some aspects of your business requirements?
  8. Are there challenges or unwelcome surprises around time spent and costs incurred?
  9. Are any of your incumbent agency contracts operating on the same contract that was negotiated more than five years ago?
  10. Have your agency or internal marketing teams changed significantly in the last few years?

Woolley also makes the point that all this is something marketers should contemplate throughout the life of the relationship:

“Today it is the marketers responsibility to define the role of the agency not only at the time of establishing the relationships, but on a regular basis as the needs of the marketer change.”

Clearly defining the role of your ad agency at the outset of the relationship and at regular intervals during its term, can save you and your team time, money and yes, angst.  Many of the issues you’ve faced with your incumbent agency(s) in recent years could likely be solved if you, your teams (and your agencies) had a clear, up to date definition of what their role really was.

The benefits of clear definition

Benefits of clear definition include:

  • Alignment of objectives
  • Clear definition of success metrics
  • Defined roles and expectations of both marketer and agency
  • Defined roles amongst multiple agencies
  • Improved collaboration between agencies

And yes, likely improved results too.

If you’ve not considered the role of your agency(s) recently, ask your teams what they think the role of your agency(s) should be.  Better yet, ask your agency(s) what they think their role is too. The answers (and the gaps) might surprise you.


To find our how TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants can help you further with this, click here.

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    Stephan Argent is the founder of Listenmore Inc. – the leading Agency Search and Management consultancy in Canada. Stephan is an international leader in Media, Marketing and Advertising, with deep experience in Media gained from agency and client environments in the United Kingdom and North America. He brings multi-dimensional and award-winning strategic, business and creative skills to the world of Marketing and, in particular, the rapidly evolving world of Digital Media.

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