Ad Agency, Digital Agency, Marketing Agency…What’s the Difference?


Choosing the right partners for your business is a major key to success. But in the modern business world, there are seemingly endless options — your inbox, Facebook feed, and voicemail are probably filled with solicitations from marketing, advertising, and sales firms promising huge profits if you sign up for their services. This is especially true if your online behavior indicates that you’re actively looking to partner with an agency.

At some point, you’ll need to make a choice. But how? Well, an important first step in narrowing down your decision is understanding the difference between various agencies and what they offer.

The three main types of agencies that seek to assist businesses increase their sales: advertising agencies, digital agencies, and marketing agencies. Let’s take a closer look and each type to help clarify what they offer.

The original purpose of an advertising agency was to act as a “middle man” between a media corporation (such as a newspaper, magazine, or television network) and businesses that could benefit from advertising in/on the media corporation’s productions. For example, a newspaper would hire an advertising agency to reach out to local businesses about paying to print their advertisements in the newspaper. Soon, advertising agencies evolved — they not only sold ad space, but also offered services to help businesses create the advertisements themselves.

As such, “advertising agency” has become something of a catch-all term, but it virtually always indicates that an agency designs and creates the advertisements themselves, and tends to refer to print and media (TV, radio, etc.) advertising. If you’re interested in advertising your business in magazines and newspapers, an advertising agency is the right choice.

A “digital agency” is essentially the same as an advertising agency, but specializes exclusively in digital mediums such as graphic design and animation. A digital agency may also offer such services as website development, e-mail marketing, and pay-per-click campaign management. However, the primary services of a digital agency will generally focus on creative design, with other services offered as “add-ons.”

Digital agencies often work with clients who have decided to re-brand their business, or who plan to launch a new business and want to establish their brand and overall design theme to help ensure a successful launch in the future. A business may work with a design agency on a one-time / contractual basis for their assistance with a specific advertising campaign.

A marketing agency is something of a combination between an advertising agency and a digital agency. That is, a marketing agency offers the creative design services of a digital agency, but with the focus on increasing sales and generating leads offered by an advertising agency. A business might approach an advertising agency if they have existing ad content but need guidance on where and how to publish it; they might approach a digital agency if they know where and how they’d like to advertise but need content for the actual advertisements.

Meanwhile, a marketing agency can work with a business throughout the entire process, beginning with helping the business understand their target audience and how best to reach them, and then conceptualizing, designing, and publishing advertisements in a way that best suits these strategies.

Of course, even if a business already has the content for its advertisements or ideas about their advertising strategy, they may still choose to work with a marketing agency (as opposed to an advertising or digital agency) to gain their input and expertise on the whole advertising process.

Faster Solutions is an example of a marketing agency — we frequently work with clients from the very early stages of developing a brand identity and corresponding advertising campaigns. As a joint marketing agency and website design & development firm, we have the ability to design and develop websites that integrate naturally and seamlessly with the ads we create and marketing strategies we implement.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of partnering with Faster Solutions? Get in touch with us today and let’s talk!

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