The History Of The Advertising Agency: From Print To The Internet

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Advertising today has moved mostly to the internet, with a significant decline in television and print ads used by businesses. Companies of all sizes have access to a wide range of advertisement solutions online, such as Google and Facebook Ads, along with ad exchanges. The advertising agency, however, still plays the same role as it has for many years. Advertising agencies can play a very important role in helping businesses grow and get more from their marketing budget, but there are still some ways in which these agencies have grown and evolved over time. We take a look at the history and evolution of the advertising agency in this post. 

What Is An Advertising Agency

Advertising agencies are companies that focus on helping their clients reach the ideal audience and optimize their expenses by managing ad campaigns on their behalf. These companies generally develop an advertising plan for the client and then execute it accordingly. They work closely with the client to ensure the company’s needs are thoroughly understood while also committing themselves to keep within the advertising budget that the client has available. 

Many of these agencies do not solely focus on managing the advertising campaigns of their clients. They often also offer additional services that can further assist the client in expanding their reach and increasing sales. For example, an advertising agency can have in-house creatives that can assist with designing media to be used in the ad campaigns that they run for a client. This essentially creates an all-in-one solution for clients, as there is no need to hire separate designers for the creatives that are required. Social media marketing, on-page search engine optimization, domain registration, and sometimes even hosting are additional services that are offered by these agencies. Of course, in older times, these additional services were not yet available, but agencies still tried to diversify the selection of services they were able to offer clients. 

The History Of Advertising Agencies

Advertising today does not look like it did 200 years ago. The very first agency was opened back in 1786 by a person named William Taylor. If you look up historical facts, then you’ll notice that his agency is known as the first advertising agency. The agency was opened in the UK and sparked interest within the European regions. It wasn’t until 1840, however, that these agencies started to become popular in other countries. Volney B. Palmer was the first to open one of these advertising agencies within the United States. It was also the agency that Palmer created that set an example for future agencies and formed the foundation of the agencies that we use today in order to manage our advertising campaigns more effectively. 

At the time, several agencies were created, and they primarily offered services that helped increase exposure for their clients. During these times, the internet was not yet available. Thus, these agencies turned to local newspapers and magazines, as well as posters, in order to get the word out about their client’s businesses. 

How Have Ad Agencies Changed Over Time

Initially, print media were targeted by advertising agents, as it was the default promotional material available at the time. Over time, the people involved at these agencies developed strategies to improve the results they were able to get for their clients. For example, market research became an important topic when working on a client’s advertising campaign. This particular process involved thoroughly studying the client’s business, as well as what they offer, in order to get an idea of who to target. This would then help the agents at an advertising agency understand where ads should be placed, as well as the type of creatives that should be used. 

Advertising also went from print to being broadcasted on radio and later on television, too, as these technologies started to become part of the average person’s life. 

Before The Internet

A less creative advertising strategy was used initially. The people who created their own advertising agencies generally went into an agreement with newspapers to help them fill open ad spaces prior to the printing of the paper. The agent then charged a commission to the client, who decided to pay for an advertisement in an open spot. 

Prior to the internet, visuals were still used. As these agents became more creative, they started to work on things like typography and visuals in order to draw the attention of people who saw the ads. A major step was taken when televisions came out. As programs aired on televisions, channel operators were able to run advertisements in between them. This gave advertising agencies new opportunities to explore when they tried to get a better reach for their clients. 

Introduction Of The Internet

The internet was introduced only a few decades ago, and since then, advertising has evolved significantly. Today, there are countless number of advertising opportunities that businesses can explore. The internet also created new opportunities for advertising agencies and created a market for new agencies to come into existence. In the United States, there are more than 14,000 agencies that offer advertising and management services to local and international clients. 

The internet has changed advertising significantly, as it opened up a whole new world for agencies and businesses to explore.  One of the major barriers that the internet has overcome is coverage and reach. Newspapers are only delivered or available in certain areas of the country, which means exposure for a client is limited when an ad agency runs an advertisement here. Not everyone reads magazines, especially in the modern day – so this is also an advertising media that is slowly starting to decline. 

Being able to bring a business online and expose it to people on the internet is the way advertising agencies work today. Once a company has an established website, it’s easier for the advertising agent to set up campaigns that will target the exact audience that the company is hoping to attract. 

Advertising agencies are also adopting a wide variety of technologies and platforms in order to keep up with this competitive industry. The role of the advertising agency is also no longer solely to help in the creation and management of ad campaigns. These agencies are now often also involved in the process of creating graphics that can be used for an ad campaign in a digital format. Many of the companies also introduce services like website development, brand identity creation, hosting, and more – all with the goal of expanding on what they are able to offer their clients in one location. Some are also introducing marketing services that span further than the platforms involved with advertising. With a combination of the two, advertising helps to use paid media in order to attract an audience, while marketing rather prioritizes the use of free options that can boost the company’s overall exposure, reputation, and trust in the long run. 

The Ad Agency Model Threatened By AdTech

With the introduction of AdTech platforms, advertising agencies now face a significant threat that could spell trouble for them in the future. Without making the right adjustments to how these agencies work, they may soon find that brands and businesses skip the step of working with an agency to optimize their advertising campaigns and rather turn to AdTech as a solution. 

AdTech refers to platforms that assist businesses in developing advertising campaigns with precise targeting. The technology also enables these businesses to obtain valuable data from their campaigns – and this data then serves as essential information that helps the business better optimize their ad campaigns in the future. 

There are multiple reasons why some businesses now prefer to go directly with AdTech instead of hiring an advertising agency to manage their campaigns. One important benefit that AdTech offers is the fact that, in the long run, it can significantly reduce the overall costs associated with the campaigns that the client needs to run. Ad agencies often charge a monthly fee that can be high at times, and this fee does not include the expenditure on the advertisements they run on the client’s behalf. 

Additionally, businesses often find that the level of control they have with AdTech platforms, along with the immensely valuable data that they can obtain, makes this approach a more efficient and economical option. 

Advertising agencies do need to make certain adjustments to their business models to keep up with this competition. There are a couple of options that ad agencies can consider, but incorporating AdTech into those strategies has become a very important element. 

If you run an advertising agency, then creating in-house solutions that feature AdTech platforms can be a great way to get a competitive edge and reduce the impact these recent developments can have on your agency. This way, you’d be able to offer a solution as an AdTech vendor, which is what many businesses are turning to today. You’ll then be able to offer AdTech platforms, while still attending to clients who prefer a more traditional route of advertising campaign management. Further expanding on the services that you can offer in-house to your clients is also important, as this is something that many advertising agencies have already started doing. A greater variety of services allows your clients to use your agencies for multiple parts of their projects and business management strategies – ultimately driving better engagement for your business and increasing your profits. 

Examples Of Large, International Ad Agencies

As the internet advances, more and more ad agencies can be found throughout the world. While some have offices that allow customers to come in for a consultation, others solely work through the internet, essentially reducing the cost on their side associated with the renting of multiple buildings and different staff members. 

Some of the advertising agencies have been exceptionally successful and have worked with some of the biggest companies in the world in order to assist with the optimization of ad campaigns. There are several examples of these large and international ad agencies that we are able to look at. 

The global expansion and the internationalization of ad agencies became quite popular in the 1900s. This was when companies started to open up branches abroad. McCann Erickson is an excellent example, who opened an office in Europe 25 years after the company was initially founded. The company then later made its way to both Australia and the Southern parts of America. 

Today, there are many ad agencies that still remain large and successful. The OmniconGroup, for example, obtains about $15.3 billion in revenue on an annual basis. WPP Group has also reported an annual revenue of $19. Dentsu, an advertising agency in Tokyo, gains $6 billion in profit every year, and the Interpublic Group in New York City reports around $7.5 billion. These figures continue to grow every year as the demand for ad agencies also continues to rise. 

By looking at these figures, which are still increasing year after year, we can see that ad agencies are doing better than ever before and will continue to play an important role in helping businesses improve their overall advertising campaigns and bring in more profit. Many of these agencies are making vital changes to how they approach advertising, which often yields higher returns for the clients. They are consistently adapting to new technologies that are being released and keep themselves up to date with the latest changes in the advertising space to ensure they are able to offer their clients services that deliver real results in an ever-changing world. 

Final Thoughts

Since 1786, advertising agencies have been helping businesses reach their target audience. While initially focused on print, the introduction of the internet has opened up more opportunities for both agencies and businesses to explore. Reaching your target market has also become much easier thanks to the initiation of AdTech, technologies that work together to ensure your ads can reach the right people, show up on the ideal websites, and bid on the best-performing ad spots. 

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