An advertising agency is an independent firm that specializes inthe creation, implementation, and sustenance of advertising campaigns. These firms also handle other forms of marketing and promotion for their clients. An advertising agency typically is outsourced by companies of varying sizes to help in their marketing efforts.

When companies are outsourcing their advertising needs, they will either go for a local advertising agency or an international advertising agency. This will be purely based on the size of the company and the target audience of the product. Smaller organizations will tend to go local, while more prominent organizations will go international.

Advertising has evolved as a marketing platform, and this review will look at the history of advertising agencies, how these agencies have changed over time both before and after the Internet and how these agencies are threatened by technology.

The History of Advertising Agencies

In the beginning, when advertising became a reality, ads were delivered to various media outlets by representatives who sold and resold these advertising spaces for a profit. This was all before the birth of fully-fledged advertising agencies.

These representatives would in future, have more responsibilities such as designing, coordinating, planning, and writing advertisements for clients at a fee.

The first advertising agency in history dates back as far as the 17th century when William Taylor set up one in London. While Taylor is considered as the pioneer of advertising agencies, it was another individual; Volney B. Palmer, who took the idea overseas and spread it across the world.

Palmer opened the first overseas advertising agency on American soil in the 18th century in the city of Philadelphia. This became the prototype of today’s advertising agency. Palmer would buy large advertising spaces in major newspapers and sell them at a markup to advertisers. This made him an ad space broker will little influence on the creative side of advertisements.

Many other advertising agencies were launched around the world and followed the same business model until the 19th century when N.W Ayer & Sonbegan operations in New York. Rather than merely selling ad spaces, this agency delivered the full array of services, including ad content creation, ad planning, executing ad campaigns for its clients, and plenty more besides.

The Evolution of Advertising Agencies Over Time

Most people presume that the majority of work done in advertising agencies has to do with content creation while it is just a fraction of the work done. Traditionally agencies were hardly creative, and over the decades, they have evolved to what they are today. So how have these agencies evolved with time:

Before The Internet

The primary advertising agents worked directly or indirectly on behalf of newspapers rather than clients, whereby they were selling ad spaces. They charged immense prices for a hardly ingenious venture.

After globalization,ad agencies became brand partners with companies and were charged with developing a marketing strategy and perceiving campaign ideas amongst other roles. This helped these firms achieve their goals with larger profit margins.

Indeed ad agencies have come a long way and gained new roles, all while diversifying their portfolios with the latest marketing options.

After The Introduction of the Internet

Ad agencies were the go-to option for all offline advertising needs. But with the culmination of the internet revolution changed everything for ad agencies. It changed everything for advertising agencies, forcing them to adopt technology or risk losing out on clients.

The Internet also shifted the balance of power from advertising agencies paving the way for adtech firms that pioneered the digital marketing platform that advertising agencies also use in today’s world. While most think of ad agencies as traditional, they have evolved and explored opportunities on social media and other digital platforms as well.


To sum it all up, advertising agencies have transformed rapidly from what they were in the beginning to what they became after globalization and to what they are now as a result of the introduction of the Internet.