Don't Be Hasty: Selecting the Right Digital Ad Agency

By Derek Schou, Associate Editor

Companies of all sizes have an opportunity like never before to reach consumers from around the world via digital ads.

As businesses look to take full advantage of the benefits that digital ads supply (acquisition, retention, etc.), many have turned to agencies in order to make the most of their online advertising efforts. Before signing with an agency, however, there are plenty of considerations to make.

What Industry Are They Familiar With?

One of the first things that companies should look for when scouting for ad agencies is their area of expertise. A company that sells sporting equipment, for example, would not want to sign a contract with an ad agency that specializes in the music industry, two dramatically different areas of business that require different skill sets and knowledge.

The simplest way in which companies can tell if an ad agency has experience working in their vertical is by examining their client list. Readily available on many ad agency websites, client rosters can help companies understand whether or not the agency is the right fit for them based on the commonalities of their accounts (e.g. industry, size, etc.).

What Type of Success Have their Previous Campaigns Had?

Companies should also make sure to ask for case studies of successful campaigns that agencies have run in the past. By examining an agency's previous work, companies can find which types of campaigns the agency excels at creating as well as what type of return on investment (ROI) they can reasonably expect from their campaigns.

"The biggest problem I see with agencies is the performance," said Brett Bastian, CEO of Blast Moba, a mobile marketing firm for small agencies. "Some agencies perform very well, while others fail to produce results. Before considering an agency, every business should do their due diligence to see what kind of ROI previous clients received."

Agency Life

From hours worked to the need for outside contractors, check out what life is really like at a digital ad agency at

What Type of Services Do They Offer?

Another element for companies to consider before deciding upon an agency is the type of services they offer. Many agencies offer a variety of services, from social and search marketing to analytics and Web design, yet often these "popular" services only scratch the surface of what agencies offer. For instance, AMP, a digital ad agency, provides services that help companies understand consumer behaviors, enabling them to discover how best to engage with each consumer.

"The agencies out there that create value-adds offer multiple services and keep an eye on and review other channels to see how they can hit your business objectives and drive growth; not just drive more impressions, clicks and conversions," said Andy Groller, vice president of digital advertising at DragonSearch. "At the end of the day, you need revenue for your business across a variety of channels for sustainable, long-term growth."

What is Their Payment Structure?

Before signing on the dotted line, companies must carefully read over and understand the agency's fee structure. In the digital ad space there are various types of fee structures so it's important that companies understand how they will be expected to pay before signing on the dotted line. For example, des the agency charge based off the amount of time they spend on the campaign or based on the performance of the campaign?

Decision Time

While digital ad agencies can be an invaluable part of a company's overall plan, it's vital that companies do the necessary background research to make sure they are signing with an ad agency that works best for them. Use the preceding questions as a starting point in your quest to select the right agency for your brand.