U.S. agency revenue rose 4.4% to $48.3 billion in 2016, according to Ad Age Datacenter.
All major agency disciplines grew last year, led by healthcare, up 7.6%. Promotion gained 5.4%, boosted by experiential marketing. The data-centric field of CRM/direct marketing rose 4.5%. PR increased 3.2%.
Also, U.S. ad agency employment in December reached its highest level (202,700) since the dot-com bubble in 2001. So, if you don’t mind me asking, where is this withering, lumbering Ad Beast that’s about to topple over that I keep hearing about? Could it be a mythic creature, purely a figment of a lonely editor’s limited imagination?
The agency business (taken in totality) is alive and well, and the opportunities are as ripe as ever. The fact is marketing is a complex discipline and well-trained specialists from at least a dozen fields are needed to help companies navigate the media buys, the retail reinventions, the strategic listening sessions, and so on.
Despite the consistent growth, agency execs need not get too comfortable. There is a lot of room for improvement. Ad fraud and privacy need solutions. Lack of diversity is archaic and embarrassing. The industry also lacks a meaningful standard like law, medicine, and accounting. Where is the ad industry’s equivalent of a certified financial planner or a certified public accountant?