Ask A Recruiter: What’s the Benefit of a Big Agency?
June 4, 2018
A recruiter weighs in on the pros and cons of agencies big and small.
If there’s one thing that marketers can universally agree on, it’s that marketing moves fast.
According to an Adobe study published in 2016, marketing changed more between 2014 and 2016 than it did in the fifty year time period predating that. Audiences are becoming increasingly segmented, meaning that marketers must adapt at lightning speed to keep up with new audience needs.
However, these changes don’t just affect professional marketers. It’s difficult for academia to keep up with trends, so rapid industry changes leave students in the lurch, too. Analytics, marketing analysis, management, and research are all useful skills, but academia leaves out important context that helps students adapt these skills to a digital landscape.
Because university courses lag behind real life, marketing grads face an enormous information gap when entering the industry. There are a number of subjects classes don’t cover at length, or that they don’t cover at all. Topics like search engine optimization, content marketing, native advertising, and programmatic often don’t make the cut in college curriculums. Even so, these are important subjects that any marketing grad entering the professional world need to know.
For example, native advertising is one of the fastest growing forms of advertising. It’s also rarely taught as part of a degree. Business Insider estimates that native will drive 74 percent of ad revenue by 2021, meaning more companies are turning to native to reach new audiences. Advertising is an increasingly digital and native landscape, and students who don’t learn these subjects are unprepared to enter the industry.
The information gap also means that there’s a steep learning curve when entering the industry. It’s a crash course of sorts to catch up with a semester’s worth of information in real time.
Though big agencies give recent grads valuable experience, grads shouldn’t discount the value of smaller or performance marketing agencies. While there is still a learning curve, performance marketing is often at the cutting edge of advertising trends and technology, meaning that grads learn the most recent and important information. Where small agencies tend to have more agile strategies and can adapt quickly, big agencies often have a more difficult time adjusting to new types of advertising.
Difficulty changing is one of the factors driving brands away from big agencies. Large agencies operate on a model that prioritizes delivering massive scale. The ever-increasing focus on targeting specific audiences over scale is an issue for big agencies. It means brands aren’t looking for the type of scale big agencies provide. For large agencies, staying current would mean changing to an entirely new advertising model.
Programmatic and other native advertising technology means that many brands can bring some of their advertising work in house. Other brands work with smaller agencies to reach targeting goals and attract smaller but more specific audiences.
Another benefit of working with a performance marketing agency is that new grads will learn a number of new skills quickly. Big agencies are still a first choice for many people. They’re also not as relevant to market trends as they were five years ago and grads learn fewer skills. A performance or direct response agency means working with recent and relevant verticals. Smaller team sizes are common, which allows more room for growth and greater idea ownership. Performance agencies also provide control and closer relationships with clients, which is a positive for professionals.
Ultimately, grads must determine the pros and cons of working at agencies big and small to determine their career paths. Performance marketing agencies do come with cons — most small agencies initially pay less, for example — but these are things grads must weigh against the value of benefits like rapid career growth and learning new skills.