The Common Types of Advertising and Agencies

A 2007 New York Times article made the claim that people are exposed to as many as 5,000 advertisements on any given day.

Whether it's the reason for or because of all these ads, there are nearly as many types of advertising agencies. An ad is not just an ad, and advertising is an industry with many different niches and subspecies.

Common Types of Advertising

To gain an understanding of the different types of advertising agencies, you must start by examining the different types of ads themselves. Here are the "big three."  


We live in a digital age perfectly designed for advertising. Digital agencies are responsible for an umbrella of Internet advertising that includes display ads, banner ads, per-per-click (PPC) ads, social media ads and more. There are even "retargeting" ads that will follow people around the Internet wherever they go, custom-designed based on the person's browsing history.


Ever thumb through a magazine and find that the first 14 pages are nothing but ads? You can thank media advertising, which, despite a decline in print readership, still generates a ton of annual revenue. Media advertising also includes newspapers, radio and the platform that generates the most dollars: television.

A subset of this category is "media buying," or third-parties that buy television and radio time and resell it to companies looking for advertising platforms.


Billboards, bus stops, gas pumps—you name it. It seems like every square foot of real estate is taken up by an ad stemming from outdoor advertising. And there are some interesting numbers to suggest it's all worth it.

Types of Advertising Agencies

Advertising agencies can come in the form of:

  • Business-to-Business, or B2B, agencies focus on advertising products and services offered by one company to another.

  • Retail, or "business-to-consumer," agencies specialize in advertisements for consumers and make up the majority of the hundreds or thousands of ads we see each day.

  • Corporate. Corporate advertising is more public relations than sales. It's purpose is to strengthen a company's image, reputation and brand.

  • Financial. Loosely related to corporate advertising, financial advertising is designed to attract and retain investors of a company.

The next time you see an ad, don't just think about what it's selling. Think about where it came from.

NY Times - Anywhere the Eye Can See, It's Likely to See an Ad
Adwerx Blog - Retargeting: Bring Visitors Back! - Revenue Sources: A Heavy Dependance on Advertising
Forbes - Does Outdoor Advertising Still Work?

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