What Is the Typical Organizational Structure of an Advertising Agency?

R. Stamm

The organizational structure of an advertising agency depends on various factors, such as the size of the company, the number of people employed by the company, and the quantity and value of accounts the company has acquired. For most shops, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) are on the top tier. After the president, departments operate on a lateral scheme of equal importance, since all departments are inter-dependent on one another. These departments are separated between four to five different aspects of the advertising business including creative departments and account managers.

The president or CEO is typically on the top level of the organizational structure.
The president or CEO is typically on the top level of the organizational structure.

The president or CEO is typically on the top level of the organizational structure. He or she is responsible for managing the daily operations of the agency and allocates the finances. In addition, this person assists with account management, marketing, and advertising strategies.

Under the CEO are account managers, the creative department, media buyers, and traffic or production management. Account managers are responsible for bringing new business into the agency. Once the account is established, the account manager and client agree on marketing and advertising objectives. Account managers establish a budget and a deadline for completion of the project.

Copywriters and art directors are in the creative department, and both work closely together to develop compelling and memorable advertising campaigns. They take direction from account managers to serve the client’s needs. The creative team is responsible for presenting a series of ideas from which the account managers to choose. Along with the account managers, they establish a production budget for proposed advertising ideas and are present for client presentations.

One of the most important departments in an advertising agency is the media buyers and the production management team. Media buyers ensure the best rates for ad placement in print, media or online, and they determine the success of advertisements. The production management team is responsible for ensuring that all departments are well within the budget guidelines set forth by the client and account managers. They ensure that each unit is meeting deadlines, and verify the accuracy finished advertisements. In addition, the production management team is responsible for all administrative duties within the office.

There is a third tier in the organizational structure of an advertising agency made up of support personnel, who are responsible for assisting any of the key people in other departments. Each department has its own specialized support people to perform certain tasks and assist in delivering successful advertising campaigns.

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Discussion Comments


I work for a small ad agency, so our structure is a bit different than that of large corporations. I suppose the man who would be the CEO is just called the owner and the boss around here, and he is much more accessible than a big CEO is to employees.

We have one art director, three account managers, and two graphic designers. I am the only “support person,” but they just call me the secretary. I answer the phone, take messages, and greet people at the door. I send out any faxes that need sending, and I make copies and coffee.

While my job is considered entry level, I am doing exactly what I enjoy, and I don't plan to seek a higher position later. I love being the friendly face and voice that people see or talk to first every day.


My best friend is an account manager at an ad agency, and though her job is very demanding, she gets compensated very well. She makes $60,000 a year, so any stress that she has to contend with is balanced out by the nice salary. She also gets good insurance and a retirement plan.

This job isn't for everyone, but if a person is thinking of going into advertising and customer service, this would be a good route to go. Sure, there are picky people you have to please, but life is full of those, no matter what you do.

My friend actually enjoys talking to clients and to workers in all the different departments in the agency. She has excellent communication skills, so she is able to tell the other employees exactly what the client is looking for, and she does it politely. She is so good at her job that I wouldn't be surprised if she takes over for the CEO one day when he retires.


@cloudel – I am a graphic designer at an ad agency, and I love my job. I think what I love most is not having to deal with unruly clients directly.

The account manager is responsible for finding out exactly what they want from us, and he has to tell the art director what that is. She then relays the message to us, so though there is room for stuff to get lost in translation, at least we only have to answer to one person, and that person generally isn't irate.

As long as I do my job to the best of my abilities, everything goes smoothly. Even when the client isn't happy with what we have given him, the art director understands that some people are impossible to please and that we designers did our best with the information we were given.


I always knew that I wanted to work in advertising, but I wasn't sure which area should be my focus. During the summer after my high school graduation, I got an internship as a support person at an advertising agency.

I got to see the inner workings of the agency firsthand. A couple of times, I even got to sit in on client meetings, even though it was just to serve coffee to those who wanted it.

I could see that I didn't want to be an account manager, because that seemed too stressful. I could also see that I wasn't interested in being on the production team, because it seemed a bit boring to me.

The creative department was what I fell in love with. Seeing the beautiful designs that they came up with inspired me, and I decided to study graphic design.

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