Creative Agency vs. Advertising Agency vs. Marketing Agency: What’s the Difference?

February 1, 2023
Posted by
Bonus Track

In this blog, we answer frequently asked questions about creative services agencies and advertising and marketing:

- What’s the difference between creative services vs. marketing services? 

- How do creative agencies differ from advertising and marketing agencies? 

- What are the different types of creative agencies?

First, we differentiate creative agencies from advertising agencies and marketing agencies. Then, we list several types of creative agencies and what they do. Get ready to take notes!

Creative Agency vs. Advertising Agency

A creative agency offers both advertising and marketing services that bring a brand’s story to life, while an advertising agency focuses on creating cross-channel ads that promote the business.

Creating Services Agency

Creative agencies are staffed with a diverse team of experts in various fields who develop innovative strategies that help companies increase brand awareness and achieve business objectives, such as:

- Copywriters

- Editors

- Photographers

- Videographers

- Web designers and developers

- Art and creative directors

- Graphic designers

- Account managers

- Analysts

- Strategists

- Producers 

What do creative agencies do? A creative services agency may offer social media marketing, content production, graphic design, paid ads, and strategic planning, but this list of services is not exhaustive. The service list will depend on whether the agency is full-service or not. Later on, we list several different types of creative agencies.

A creative promotional marketing agency excels at creating cohesive brand experiences for its clients’ target audiences. The goal of their services is not only to run a successful campaign but to turn leads into lifelong customers.

Advertising Agency

Advertising agencies are more tactical and less, well, creative. These agencies focus on creating, managing, and monitoring multichannel ad campaigns to generate leads that ultimately result in conversions. They’re not as concerned with storytelling because their strategies aim to win business, not build a base of loyal fans.

There are two primary types of advertising agencies: digital and traditional.

Digital advertising agencies specialize in online advertising. Some digital advertising services include email marketing, social media advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM). 

Traditional ad agencies advertise on more conventional channels, such as TV, print, and radio. Traditional advertising services may include direct mail, newspaper ads, billboards, TV commercials, and radio ads.

One common misconception is that advertising agencies are the only ones that launch large-scale advertising campaigns. However, a full-service creative agency is fully capable of producing a national ad campaign that reaches the masses.

Creative Agency vs. Marketing Agency

Here are a few differences between creative services vs. marketing services:

1. Marketing agencies get deep into market research. Market research is about gathering insights about your customers to hyper-target your marketing message so that it speaks directly to their needs. Creative marketing firms perform user research. User research is foundational to design strategy, such as building a website. It helps creative agencies understand users through observation to inform the design process.

2. Creative Strategy vs. Marketing Strategy. A marketing agency does the backend research to develop a marketing strategy, such as determining which channels will be most effective and how much the budget needs to be. A creative agency uses this marketing strategy to design on-brand content for campaigns that appeal to a business’s target audience.

3. Quantitative vs. Qualitative. Marketing agencies are analytical. They rely heavily on quantitative data to drive decisions. On the other hand, creative agencies put more emphasis on qualitative information, such as what type of creative will evoke the desired emotion in potential customers. 

To be clear, it’s not to say that creative agencies don’t understand the market, execute the marketing strategy, or consider quantitative information. This list is meant to communicate which creative services vs. marketing services each agency type typically emphasizes more than the other.

Types of Creative Agencies

There are many different types of creative agencies, each with its own unique focus and approach to helping businesses achieve their goals. Some creative marketing firms offer numerous services that support multifaceted initiatives, while others specialize in a primary service offering. 

- Full-service creative agency: What is a full-service creative agency? A full-service creative agency is a one-stop shop for all your marketing needs. Their suite of services provides an integrated strategy that promotes your business using various methods (e.g., influencer marketing) across multiple channels (e.g., social media, magazines).

- Branding agency: Branding agencies help businesses define and communicate their brand through visuals. This can include developing a brand strategy, creating a brand style guide, and designing branded assets such as logos and packaging.

- Public relations agency: Public relations (PR) agencies help businesses manage their relationships with the media and the public. This can include creating press releases, organizing media events, and managing crisis communications.

- Social media agency: Social media agencies specialize in social media marketing. This can include developing a social media strategy, creating and scheduling social media content, and managing social media advertising.

By understanding the different types of creative agencies, businesses can choose which one(s) is the best fit. 

The Best Creative Services Agency in Toronto, At Your Service

In addition to evaluating the services an agency provides for fit, get a feel for their vibe. For example, a boutique creative services agency like Bonus Track is more personal and flexible than a large ad agency where you’re one of a hundred clients. At Bonus Track, we treat every client like they’re the only one on our roster.

As a full-service creative marketing firm in Toronto, our team is capable of ideating, creating, and executing a holistic strategy that turns browsers into brand advocates. We’re a visionary partner that amplifies your brand through effective creative, while tracking your campaign’s performance from start to finish, delivering measurable results.

Additionally, Bonus Track has a sister PR agency, Pomp & Circumstance. By working with Bonus Track, clients get access to a full-service creative agency and public relations services that help amplify their brand even more. Instead of clients coordinating initiatives between two exclusive agencies, this built-in partnership allows for a seamless experience.

We’re the pitch-perfect combination of creative and strategic.

Ready to perform a duet with us? Just. Hit. Play.