The total US advertising spend in 2018 reached $151 billion. Worldwide, it is soon expected to surpass $560 billion. Based on these numbers, the demand for advertising agencies is now greater than ever. With that big of a demand comes even bigger competition, and finding the right advertising partner is now a real business challenge. We solved the where and the how for you by ranking the best agencies based on a detailed evaluation methodology. Scroll down to discover the companies that made the cut in the table. Right below, you will also find our best tips for shortlisting and ultimately choosing the perfect agency for your business.
There are countless of good agencies out there, but we are here to make a clear difference between good and great. Our evaluation criteria narrow down not only the great but the absolute best companies in the business. We examined these companies for the variety of services they offer, the capability to deliver both digital and traditional solutions to promote brands across all media channels, as well as their branding and creative powers. You can find a detailed explanation of the methodology we used to rank the companies below.
There are many things to consider when choosing the right advertising agency for your business. Some have a specific industry focus, others have a client focus by sizes such as small businesses, enterprise-level companies, or even freelancers. There are also agencies with expertise in specific areas like helping startups succeed, or helping lesser-known brands compete against industry giants.
That said, the first step of our evaluation methodology is to establish the client focus in terms of business size as well as any industry specialty in which these advertising agencies operate. Note that this step doesn’t affect the ranking position of the agencies, but only helps us classify them. So, in the table above, you will find companies specialized in different industries, with different business size focal points.
One of the most important steps of our ranking process is determining the type of each agency. To do that, we examine the services they provide to put together a diverse list of companies that satisfy different needs. Below are the types of agencies we distinguish based on their function and scope of services.
Full-service agencies offer an extensive list of services that cover every aspect of the advertising process such as market research, marketing strategy (digital and traditional marketing techniques), branding, creative design, and production.
What puts these advertising agencies ahead of those that specialize in a specific marketing area is that you can get everything in one place. After comparing hundreds of agencies, we narrowed down our choices to those that offer a full scope of services along with in-depth expertise.
Similar to their full-service counterparts, integrated marketing agencies also have the capacity to satisfy all of their clients’ needs under one roof. These companies operate with large teams of professionals coming from different areas of expertise.
However, the quantity of services means nothing if the advertising company can’t implement a range of different marketing tactics in one cohesive effort. Agencies that have a holistic approach to marketing and coming up with different advertising solutions while operating in harmony—both in house and when outsourcing—get a boost in our rankings.
Internet advertising companies that offer web design, web development, SEO, SMM, content marketing, PPC, affiliate marketing, email marketing, marketing automation, lead generation, and online PR, among other advertising services, get a hike in our ranking. We gave higher ranking to agencies that offer not only a long list of digital services but in-depth knowledge in every category of online marketing.
Although digital marketing is all the rage right now, traditional marketing is still alive and well in the modern age. Traditional marketing techniques such as print and billboards can greatly complement your digital marketing efforts.
For instance, if you want to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your website, putting your business on a billboard in a strategic location, or getting a TV or radio ad will inspire people to visit your website and potentially make a purchase.
Considering the importance of traditional marketing, we also sourced outdoor advertising companies, as well as those that are experienced in crafting newspaper ads, print, TV and radio commercials, and more.
Media buying agencies provide a media strategy that contains the best time and place for the ads to roll out and drive sales. They also take care of scheduling slots at different TV and radio stations and supervise whether the ad has been telecasted at the arranged time and place or not. We made sure to include this type of agency in our list, as they can be of significant importance to clients.
For instance, clients don’t have a buying power an ads company has. These agencies can leverage the budgets of all their clients to benefit each of them with a lower cost and better ad positioning. Without a media buying firm, you’d be stuck on the phone with different advertising agents, trying to figure out which option aligns best with your budget limitations and goals. Working with a media buying agency, on the other hand, will save you time, so you can focus on high priority tasks.
Creative advertising companies mainly focus on the design and graphics of a brand offering services such as branding, copywriting, graphic design, logo design, product and packaging design, photography, and video production, and more.
We went through agencies’ past work implementing the criteria for creative agencies to examine their creative powers in terms of aesthetics, effectiveness, and ability to drive engagement. On this list, we have included both agencies that focus primarily on the creative side of marketing and full-service agencies that have a creative division within their company.
Brand awareness (or the lack of it) can either make or break a business. That’s why branding experts play a key role in positioning your business on the map. Some of the common services offered by top advertising companies that specialize in branding include research and analytics, naming, brand identity, brand positioning, logo design, signage, brand guidelines, branding strategy, and re-branding.
We sourced brands that the agencies on our list have developed to determine the quality of their branding capabilities. We checked whether the logo, graphics, and content of those brands work in harmony and support the brand’s mission. We read countless reviews to determine the level of engagement between brands and their customers as well as their position compared to the competition. Each advertising agency on this list doubles as a branding agency, allowing you to get an all-rounded marketing strategy in one place.
Virtually all advertising firms can craft a beautiful website filled with inspiring and promising words. After all, they make a living out of convincing people to buy stuff! But we don’t buy it so easily. We dig deeper through each agency’s case studies and portfolio to curate a list of the absolute best.
From the case studies, we discover how the agency has solved a specific problem, what were their recommended solutions and implementation actions. Furthermore, we identify the factors that led the advertising agencies to success or failure.
Another thing that plays a key role in our ranking system is the past work of the agencies. We take time to review their portfolios and learn whether they have a proven track record of achieving results for their clients. We like to also examine their clients to see whether they top the sought-after Google’s first page, go through customer reviews to track consumer satisfaction and engagement, and their overall position compared to competitors.
Our list of advertising agencies features candidates that have shown strong marketing and branding capabilities that can develop, maintain, and grow inspiring brands. Moreover, we only consider agencies that provide seamless communication and collaboration as well as consistent performance.
There are a lot of factors that build a good rep, but shall we start with the strongest?
Referrals by competitors.
Sometimes, even the top advertising firm might not be able to provide the full scope of services you need and might recommend another agency to outsource that specific service or even suggest another agency that’s a better fit for your business altogether. We greatly appreciate and award with a higher ranking both agencies that give honest recommendations to their potential clients as well as those that get recommended by their peers.
To further evaluate the companies’ reputation we read real-customer reviews for each of the top advertising agencies we featured on this list. Additionally, we check social media accounts and directories to source agencies that have professionals who excel in their respective areas of expertise, providing in-depth experience in all aspects of advertising. Finally, we look for problems that tend to repeat to determine if the agencies listen to their customers and take time to address the issues.
It’s the people that make awesome companies, which is why we took the time to talk with companies’ leaders and their teams about their culture and workflow. We give advantage to teams that go beyond professional diversity. They have to promote diversity on every level because nothing great ever comes from a group of people that never disagrees with anything. The top advertising firms nurture creative minds who are capable to make innovative strategies and give smart suggestions along the way.
On the other hand, as much as we love when teams disagree and brainstorm on creative topics, we value a well-defined culture. Teams that share the same values, beliefs, goals, ethics, mission, and behaviors form a work environment in which everyone can be happy, and productive. When a team culture is strong, the services or products the teams provide are holistic, harmonious, and highly effective!
Effective management is key for delivering timely and measurable results. To shortlist the best advertising agencies, we examine their entire workflow from start to finish. We evaluate the marketing strategy creation process, the creative production, the implementation process, and their approach to monitoring and tracking results. However, the number one thing we evaluate is how they handle the research process.
Market, business, and user research are crucial for developing an effective advertising strategy. Research and analyses are also important for predicting potential strengths and issues as well as monitoring progress once the marketing strategy is implemented. We featured the best ad agencies on this list that conduct deep research to create data-driven strategies.
We gather this information by interviewing representatives from the agencies. And we don’t just take their word for it. We also contact previous clients to make sure they have put the promised process into practice. Agencies that have a well-defined and research-backed strategy creation process get the highest rankings.
As a client, you have the absolute right to be involved in the entire process. Agencies that cook their secret sauce for marketing success hiding from the eyes of their clients can’t get a spot on our list. The top advertisement companies are the ones that are able to deliver work within set deadlines, measure and evaluate outcomes, and prepare measurable reports for the client.
To make sure that you’ll have the absolute best experience as a client, we present ourselves as potential clients and examine:
Marketing agencies with well-established communication and collaboration processes get a higher ranking on our list.
One of the first things that businesses think about when considering to hire the top advertising agency is: “How much will it cost?” Generally speaking, the price depends on a few factors such as the size of your company and the agency’s size, the number of services you intend to use, and the amount of marketing and creative efforts the agency needs to put in your business.
On average, advertising services can cost you between $5,000 to $250000. It’s hard to give a more accurate estimation because the price is primarily based on the amount and type of work you need to be done. That said, we provided average, more expensive, and more affordable options.
However, we didn’t choose the cheapest companies, nor the priciest ones. Our main goal is to recommend companies that give you the best value for your money while ticking all the boxes on our evaluation criteria checklist.
Hiring an agency could be a huge outlay for your business. That’s why you need to know the right questions to ask your potential marketing partner. In addition to our table that showcases the best ad companies, as well as the methodology behind ranking them, we prepared some tips for finding the perfect advertising agency for your business.
While some agencies don’t have a defined industry focus, many of the top advertising agencies are specialized in specific industries. You might want to consider hiring an agency that has experience and expertise in your area of operation. Without a doubt, they’ll never be the experts that you are, but having a deeper understanding of your industry could increase the effectiveness of the services they deliver.
Before reaching out to your potential advertising partner, take the time to define your goals. For instance, do you want to increase your brand awareness on a global level or maybe you want to attract more local customers? Or maybe you need one of the best TV advertising companies to complement your digital marketing efforts? Once you set clear goals, your ad agency should help you define the objectives you need to get the desired results.
Defining a target audience is one of the hardest and most time-consuming steps, but it’s also a key success factor. Don’t rely on assumptions, but rather conduct deep market research. Use the gathered data to define your brand persona, refine your business goals, and identify the best ways to address your consumer needs. Knowing your target audience will help you create a brand image that inspires them to take action.
Cultural alignment is another factor to take into consideration when shortlisting the potential advertising agencies. The culture is the personality of the company, so make sure you like and enjoy working with your marketing partner. In fact, the culture goes beyond likeability – the quality of services you’ll get depends on the team’s shared efforts, values, beliefs, ethics, creativity, and attitude. Give the advantage to the agencies that are strategic, visionary, and collaborative.
You don’t have to limit your choices to local advertising agencies. Tools like e-mail, videoconferencing, and instant messaging give you the freedom to hire an agency that is on the other side of the country or even the globe.
However, you might want someone located in your city or region that understands the area where you do business. Let’s say you want to increase brand awareness among local customers using traditional advertising methods. The advertising agencies on the other side of the world will most likely fail to touch and engage your audience in a way that the agencies located in the community you serve would.