Sam Romero

A Look Inside an Agency

January 12th, 2007 by Sam Romero

One of the challenges that new marketing managers face is that of working effectively with advertising agencies. Understanding the way agencies are structured can help in dealing with them.

Most agencies will have departments or functions that you would find in any company; accounting, human resources, etc. Here, we will focus on the functions or departments that are unique to agencies. They include, in no particular order: account service, creative, interactive, media, and production and traffic.

Account Service

The Account Service group is the liaison between you and the agency. It would be difficult and time-consuming for you to speak directly with all the people at the agency who are involved in projects for you: your Account Service representative, usually referred to as an Account Executive, or AE for short, communicates in your stead. The Account Service group can assist in developing strategic and tactical plans for your marketing over a period of time. A competent AE communicates clearly, concisely, and always in a timely manner. Because an AE is usually your day-to-day contact with an agency, a good working relationship with your AE is essential.


The Creative group is the department that creates the images (graphics, logos, and so forth) and words (headlines and other text) for your projects. In agencies, work tends to be specialized; graphic designers and art directors create images, and copywriters write the text. When proposed work is presented to you for review, you are seeing the work of the creative department, based on the communications they have received about your goals and needs from the AE.


Many traditional agencies now include interactive departments where web sites and other interactive media are produced. This group will typically include interactive designers, i.e. graphics artists with a special understanding of how graphics are to be treated online rather than in print, and technical personnel such as developers and coders. There are also agencies who are devoted entirely to interactive services and do not provide traditional print services; we will look at those in another article.


The Media department is charged with identifying where your messages should be placed. They will advise you on the best choices in broadcast, print, online, and so forth, to ensure that your marketing message gets to the correct audience. The Media department may also handle the negotiations for and purchasing of the actual placements for your marketing pieces.

Production and Traffic

In some agencies these groups are combined, and in others they are separate. In either case their roles are similar. The production is responsible for the physical or electronic production of your marketing pieces. They take the images and/or text provided by the Creative group and have it printed, published, or otherwise created according to specifications provided by the Account Service group. Traffic serves as the internal trackers and managers of the many projects within an agency; they help to ensure that all the groups work together and stay on schedule.

With a clear understanding of your agency’s structure, you will be better prepared to get the most out of your agency.

Categories: agencies, interactive
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About Sam Romero

Thanks for visiting. I'm a Senior Marketing Executive, Creative Director, Writer, Editor and Interactive Producer with nineteen years of experience marketing FORTUNE 500 companies. I've spent time at advertising agencies and within corporations. I'm open to freelance work or a full-time position in a wide range of roles...

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