Lizzie has several years of experience working with content creation and management. She achieved a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Birmingham, before developing a career in PR and comms.

What is the Difference Between a Marketing and Advertising Agency?

If you’ve decided to level up your creative marketing, then you may be considering hiring an agency. But do you need the help of a marketing agency or an advertising agency? Whilst the two are certainly similar, they can each offer you different returns on your investment.

So, what’s the difference between marketing and advertising agencies – and which one is right for you?

What is a Marketing Agency?

Marketing and digital marketing agencies tend to focus on the relationship between the audience, market trends and sales. They prioritise researching and strategy, that when executed correctly, will result in lead generation and sales.

Marketing agencies will normally aim to promote a brand and its products or services directly to potential customers, and can have various aims including increasing sales, raising brand awareness and widening your customer base.

A marketing agency can take on various tasks and projects including content creation, running social media accounts, SEO and PPC campaigns and PR and reputation management.

Marketing agencies tend to focus on data and strategy, carefully planning and researching every aspect of a campaign in order to meet specific goals and objectives.

What is an Advertising Agency?

If a marketing agency is focused on the strategy behind a campaign, then an advertising agency tends to put more emphasis on the creative techniques to implement it.

Advertising agencies will usually have an experienced team of creators who focus on design-led services such as branding and brand creation, brand and product positioning and the creation of assets.

Advertising agencies are often experienced in building brand awareness and brand loyalty, and will create visual branding and messaging that can run long-term, rather than one-off campaigns.

Creative assets that advertising agencies produce can be anything from videos and adverts to graphics, logos and brand guidelines. Advertising agencies will work to create a branding and theme that will run through every piece of advertising, marketing and PR that you implement.

Key Differences

Long term branding vs. Specific targeting

When you think about the branding of key brands such as Google, Amazon and eBay, for example, what do you notice? Despite the length of time they’ve all been around, they’ve hardly ever changed their branding.

They might have made minor changes to logos and colours, but their branding is instantly recognisable. This will be, almost certainly, thanks to the work of an advertising agency.

Advertising agencies focus on designing and implementing a creative brand that will last and that will run through every aspect of a company’s outward facing persona from their website and social media platforms through to marketing collateral or TV adverts.

Marketing agencies, however, tend to focus on shorter-term goals and specific targeting measures.

The work and strategy that a marketing agency implements tends to be led by market trends and audience behaviour. Marketing agencies focus on finding new avenues and opportunities to promote your brand, reach specific audiences and drive growth and success.

Market research vs. Audience research

Market research and understanding exactly where and how your business should position itself is essential – and this is where marketing agencies excel.

Marketing agencies are able to conduct extensive research on market and industry trends, as well as analysing your competitors’ marketing presence in order to best stand you apart from your competition.

Marketing and digital marketing agencies tend to focus on research-led growth and identifying key sectors and opportunities to promote your brand and its products or services.

Advertising and more creative agencies, however, will normally focus on the specific needs and desires of individual audiences. Advertising agencies will create branding specifically designed to attract the attention of key demographics.

In order to ensure the visual branding they are presenting is hitting the right note with users, advertising agencies will conduct specific audience research and targeting, as opposed to the market-led trends that marketing agencies use to determine strategy goals.

Analytics vs. Creativity

Marketing agencies tend to take a more analytic approach to campaigns and strategies. They will use tools and data to discover logical insights into key marketing-critical areas such as targeting, budget spend and performance.

If you’re looking for insights into key traffic sources, platforms that are providing the most impact and areas where your online presence is lacking, marketing agencies can provide this, as well as a strategy for improvement, in bucket loads.

Advertising agencies, however, tend to take a more creative approach, focusing on audience interaction and emotion to drive traffic and sales as opposed to numbers and data.

Which is Right For You?

It is often difficult to decipher which is right for you: a marketing agency or an advertising agency.

Before you decide, you need to figure out exactly what it is you’re looking for. If, for example, you need help designing and implementing a creative brand and presence, then an advertising agency may be what you’re looking for, whilst if you’re in need of more practical and hands-on strategy to increase revenue, then a marketing agency may be the best choice.

It’s important to remember that the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive either. Often brands will use both a marketing and advertising agency to provide them with complementing services. The two can work together to create an online (or offline) presence and strategy that works.

How Social Chameleon Can Help

As a trusted digital marketing agency, we’ve helped brands spanning various industries to transform their marketing activity and improve their online presence. We pride ourselves on our diverse, talented team, and our subsequent ability to offer our clients both analytical and creative skillsets.

To find out how we can help you, get in touch today at or by filling out the enquiry form on our contact page.

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