In the ever-evolving advertising industry landscape, where creativity meets strategy, advertising agencies serve as the vibrant engines that drive innovative campaigns and shape brand narratives. If you’ve ever wondered about venturing into this exciting realm, our blog, “Your Guide to Starting a Career in Advertising,” is here to light your path. From demystifying the roles within advertising agencies to unveiling the skills and qualities sought after in this field, we provide invaluable insights to help you embark on a rewarding journey in the dynamic world of advertising. Let’s explore the boundless opportunities, trends, and strategies that make advertising a captivating and fulfilling career path.
What Are the Core Functions of Ad Agencies?
Most people know the basics of an advertisement, but perhaps not everyone knows how much advertising agencies and staff members do to bring a successful ad to life.
Businesses once primarily relied on external advertising firms to handle their brand representation. Today, more than 72% of corporations have an in-house advertising department, and that number continues to rise.
It’s important to note that internal advertising departments don’t do it all on their own much of the time. While internal agencies develop or execute digital advertising assets for their corporations, they still rely on external agencies to some extent. The In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) reports that it often breaks down to an approximate 75/25 split of in-house work and outsourcing functions, including:
- Digital strategy and planning
- Social media
- Digital content production
- Digital creative development
One major exception is media advertising, which is still a mainstay with traditional, external advertising firms.
With all this in mind, if you have your heart set on working for an advertising firm, you still can. Not all businesses want to invest in internal advertising functions. You will still have plenty to do in a traditional advertising environment, but you’ll work more closely with the client company.
Businesses rely on powerful advertising strategies and talented advertising professionals to get the word out about their brand and product or service. There has never been a more exciting time to work in the industry, especially amid the post-pandemic recovery period where new companies and business models have arisen. Businesses need to get the word out, which means they need your help, whether in-house or in an agency.
Choose a Career Path in the Advertising Industry
Now that you’ve learned more about the functions of an ad agency, you probably understand that the needs are plentiful and varied. A business will need your help to develop public interest in a brand, product, service, initiative, or organization. Further, they will need you to help build strong relationships between the company and its customers, prospects and the public.
You might ultimately conduct various functions when working on a campaign; planning, strategizing, composing and transmitting visual and written communications, and commercials across multiple channels, including television, radio, newspapers, billboards, websites, social media platforms and blog posts. However, you may find yourself drawn to a specific area according to your skills, background, interests, and goals. Further, an employer will likely want you to have a career path in mind, regardless of how much they might ask you to perform cross-functions to achieve campaign goals.
Let’s explore some different paths you might choose to perform the functions of most interest to you after you earn your bachelor’s degree in advertising.
The Creative Department
Professionals in creative departments typically focus on the visual components of overarching advertising campaigns and specific advertisements. They also serve as the copywriter for commercials, website content, and print ads.
The most common entry-level positions where you might start your career include:
- Creative assistant
- Copy assistant
- Design assistant
Employers in creative seek candidates who have artistic talent, creative thinking, and writing skills. To showcase your skills in this area, consider obtaining a minor in marketing to gain more significant insights into creativity, strategy, and analytics to deliver value propositions for employers.
A creative team’s primary objective is to bring each project to life, whether developing a unique visual concept or style for an infographic or creating a seamless user experience for the company’s website. A creative professional must have some type of artistic talent and should communicate ideas effectively to various parties, including fellow team members, project leaders, clients, and stakeholders. Again, you need to express the value proposition to people who don’t necessarily work in the creative sphere, while ensuring executives, board members, or other stakeholders know that your creative ideas can drive business objectives and boost profits.
Creatives must also visualize a client’s ideas, even if the client doesn’t know precisely how to express those ideas. They listen to the client and then provide various interpretations to see how closely they bring their vision to life.
If you are decisive, culturally and socially aware and sensitive, and have some experience and understanding of marketing principles, you are likely to be the perfect fit for the creative department.
Here are a few careers in the creative space you might consider:
- Art Business Manager
- Art Director
- Assistant Copywriter
- Assistant Graphic Designer
- Associate Designer
- Associate Interactive Developer
- Associate Producer
- Chief Creative Officer
- Content Producer
- Copy Supervisor
- Creative Coordinator
- Creative Director
- Creative Group Head
- Creative Manager
- Creative Service Vice President
- Director of Creative Services
- Director of Graphic Services
- Executive Art Director
- Executive Creative Director
- Experience Designer
- Experience Director
- Graphic Design
- Image Retoucher
- Information Architect
- Interactive Designer
- Junior Art Director
- Junior Copywriter
- Junior Designer
- Production Artist
- Senior Art Director
- Senior Copywriter
- Senior Graphic Designer
- Senior Traffic Manager
- Social Media Copywriter
- Social Producer
- Studio Manager
- Studio Specialist
- UX / UI Designer
- VP, Group Creative Director
As you can see, there are many creative advertising avenues for you to explore once you’re ready to start your search.
While you do need to express your creative vision to clients, the account services team is on the front lines of communication. Professionals in this area meet with the clients as prospects, letting them know how the advertising agency can help fulfill their vision and represent their brand. Along with other account services team members, you will take note of the clients’ ideas and enlist the creative, media, and other departments to help organize plans to satisfy your clients., .
You might enjoy working in this area if you possess good composure and can charm or finesse people, using strong communication and presentation skills. It’s also helpful to have strong organizational skills and excellent attention to detail.
Careers in account services that might interest you include:
- Account Coordinator. An account coordinator position is an entry-level role that focuses on the administrative aspects of an account. Here, you will learn multiple duties of account management to prepare you to eventually take on your own accounts.
- Account Executive. An account executive (AE) role is crucial. They might work with a few clients at a time, and often only one, to ensure a deep understanding of the client’s core business needs, desires, vision, and goals.
- Account Planner. An account planner often focuses more on who the target customer is for the client. They serve as strategic critical thinkers and researchers who might go through data analytics to understand the customer’s needs, desires, and motivations.
- Account Manager. An account manager serves as a day-to-day manager of accounts. They don’t have as deep of a connection to the customer’s account as an AE, but they are available to field any administrative questions, such as budget matters or adjusting project deadlines.
- Account Director. An account director serves as the account services department leader, guiding the team to provide client satisfaction.
Other Careers in Advertising
There are a few additional careers in advertising you might consider:
- Media Careers. Media department personnel work to find the best outlets to reach customers for their clients. Once they do their research, they buy time and space from those outlets. Entry-level roles in this area include assistant media researcher, assistant media buyer and assistant media planner. It’s important that you have strong analytical, quantitative, and negotiation skills to thrive.
- Production Careers. You will bring client and creative staff members’ visions to life in production roles, producing commercials and interactive advertisements. You might start your career as a production assistant if you are resourceful, organized, and have a talent for powerful visual communication.
Build Skills Needed to Work in Advertising
Skills you need to pursue and enjoy a career in advertising include creativity, teamwork, communication, active listening, social media, software, research, multitasking, organization, marketing and adaptability.
What Else Can You Do to Prepare for a Career in Advertising?
Before, during, and after you go through your bachelor’s program in marketing and advertising, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare for your advertising career, such as:
- Education. Earn your bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing communications to learn the fundamentals and more about this exciting and critical field.
- Advertising Internships. During the summers or when you aren’t in class or working, try to find internships in your desired field to gain practical experience to supplement and build on your studies.
- Job Shadow. Like apprenticing, find a professional in the advertising area you want to work in, and request to shadow them to learn what they do on a typical day.
- Attend Networking Events. You might visit trade shows, job fairs, or community events to meet people.
Additional ways you can prepare for your career in advertising include building your brand, joining university clubs in advertising or marketing, and scheduling informational interviews with advertising professionals.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in advertising, take the first step and earn your bachelor’s degree in advertising & marketing communications online from Johnson & Wales University. For more information about completing your degree online or on-campus, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].