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Agency Business Trends 


Agencies Transform for the Future

Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting Group outlines seven ways advertising agencies are transforming for the future:

  • Expertise in place of versatility
  • Separating high and low value services in place of a blending approach
  • Agile teams in place of the traditional agency hierarchy
  • Open source talent management in place of static staffing
  • Project management in addition to account management
  • IP development in place of just work for hire
  • A varied compensation portfolio in place od just time based billing.

Evolution of the Advertising Agency Business

Statista created this Giant Chart exclusively for the 4A's to illustrate the changes that have occurred in the advertising agency industry since 2000. Topics include growth in employment, agency revenue, fastest growing ad hubs, share of advertising expenditure by medium, and more.

Agency Statistics

The following lists compiled by 4A's Research Services shows statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics, Country Business Patterns, and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages that give light to the number of agencies in the U.S. and their workforce.

How Ad Agencies Must and Will Evolve

Bill Koenigsberg, founder, president and CEO of Horizon Media shares his vision of how agencies need to evolve and how media buyers' jobs will change.

Role of Agencies Shifting From Tactical Execution to Strategy

Several agency executives explore the keys to agencies remaining valuable to clients.

A Mind Map of the 2020 Agency

Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting Group describes the key challenges that marketers are facing and lays out the skills and competencies needed by agencies to meet those challenges.

The SoDA Report 2015

This report from SoDA-The Digital Society explores many facets of the changing and challenging digital landscape. Topics covered include client agency relations, marketing spending, agency ecosystems, innovation labs, project vs. retainer work and much more. You must be registered on Slideshare to download

The Biggest Threats to the Agency Model

Agency professionals weigh-in on what they see as the biggest threats to the business and how to evolve to meet these challenges.

Forrester Wave Innovation Agencies

Forrester evaluates 10 agencies that are excelling at innovation.  These marketing services are developing transformational new products, insights or experiences for clients.

RSW/US 2015 New Year Outlook Report

 RSW/US surveyed senior level marketers and agency executives for their perspective on the business outlook for 2015.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Biggest tensions and disconnects between agencies and marketers
  • Marketing spending expectations
  • The movement to consolidate agency rosters vs. specialization
  • Disenchantment with using search consultants

STRATA Agency Outlook Survey

More than half of US advertising agencies that were surveyed expect to see their business grow over the coming year and many anticipate hiring new staff according to a survey by STRATA, a provider of media buying and selling software. Outlook for spending on digital advertising and programmatic buying are also reported. View the infographic.

Worldwide Partners Ad Agency New Business Survey

Worldwide Partners surveyed independent agencies about their expectations for agency income, profits and new business activity in 2015. Respondents indicate the best opportunities for 2015 are enhancing digital service offerings and attracting higher spending new business clients.  Topics covered include expectations for spending levels, hiring of new employees, and opportunities and challenges in the business.

2014 RSW/US Agency Marketer Business Report

This survey reports the challenges associated with agency new business and the tools that agencies view as most effective in generating new business. Shifts in the amount of an agency's business that is project work vs. retainer-based work is examined. Marketers' expectations during initial meetings with agencies, how they prefer to be contacted, and their views of what agencies are lacking are explored.

Research Insights from 4A's Transformation 2014

These highlights from the 4A's 2014 Transformation Conference explore the following challenges and opportunities:

  1. Agency reinvention and innovation
  2. Collaboration, culture and talent
  3. Value of agencies
  4. Purposeful marketing and good citizenship

SODA Digital Marketing Outlook vol. 1, 2014

Agency ecosystems, the rise of innovation labs, changing nature of client engagements, and how agencies are delivering value are explored in this report from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA).

The Conflict War: How Clients and Agencies Can Both Win

Lauren Crampsie, WW CMO, Ogilvy & Mather makes the case for a more rational approach to conflict management. Her presentation at the ANA Financial Management Conference provides guidance to help clients access the best agency talent, while allowing agencies to leverage their expertise and scale.

Agency 2020--Unleashing the Value of Ideas

EffectiveBrands provides the differing perspectives of marketer and agency thought leaders on how agencies are doing in a fast changing marketplace. The report provides a view of where the business is headed and what needs to be done.

Why Your Agency Needs To Think About Structure

Smart advice from Tim Williams of Ignition Consulting on how to think about a new agency structure and the challenges and opportunities a new model can solve.

Progressive Agency Models

View the video of Tim Williams from Ignition Consulting discussing innovative approaches to the ways agencies have restructured, the types of services they provide, and how these agencies make money.

View the Presentation on Slideshare

Star Group-Embedding An Agency Culture

Linda Rosanio and Jan Talamo describe how the Star Group has developed an agency culture that has excelled at being "discipline agnostic and outcome centric". Their integrated, collaborative model ventures beyond traditional agency services to encompass product development and working with startups.

Advertising VS. Agencies, Dinosaurs VS. Cockroaches

Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group forecasts 5% growth during 2014 for advertising agency holding companies. Despite those who argue that agencies are threatened by disintermediation, Pivotal's view is that agencies will become even more essential.

The Future of the Agency: Transformation, Collaboration and Innovation

During the 4A's Strategy Festival, held in Nashville in October 2013, Warc asked a select group of leading strategists to discuss some of the shifts reshaping the agency world. Four major points emerged:

  • Agencies are coming to grips with the challenges of the new marketing ecosystem.
  • In-house agencies, consultancies and ad tech provides should be made into partners rather than adversaries.
  • Creating innovation labs is a mixed blessing for agencies.
  • Enhanced flexibility will be essential to future success.

The Changing Agency Landscape: A Forrester Research Presentation

The agency model is challenged by the continual innovation in digital channels, the changing media behaviors of the customer, and marketers' frustration with a siloed approach to digital marketing. Marketers must expect that agencies overhaul their role from agents of the brand to value exchange mediators, balancing the brand's goals against its audience's needs.

To access the complete report for a fee, visit the Forrester Research website.

Advertising Agency Holding Companies: Industry Overview

Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research provides perspective on agency business, including the following:

  • Purpose of agencies
  • Purpose of global holding companies
  • Size of agency business
  • Growth drivers
  • Role of M + A in the industry
  • Core services and how agencies generate revenue
  • Compensation
  • Staffing and job descriptions
  • Risk of disintermediation

4A's Economy and Agency Implications Survey

The 4A's conducted this survey to understand the degree to which the recession affected our members. The 4A's also wanted to understand the implications the difficult economic environment had on agency economics, staffing levels, and operating priorities, including client services activities.



In This Section

My Notebook

My Notebook

4A's Talent@2030
Sept. 29-30 | Conference
This event for HR professionals and the agency C-suite will focus on leading strategies that leverage technology, social media and data to attract, engage, and retain agency talent.
> Learn More

4A's Strategy Festival
Oct. 4-6 | Conference
Join us for inspiration and hands-on training in essential skills for today's planner.
> Learn More

4A's CreateTech
Nov. 11-12 | Conference
This year's event for agency creatives and technology heads, will be held in NYC. Early registration ends September 11.
> Learn More

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