‘So, You Work at an Ad Agency?’ – Explaining What You Do to the People Who Ask

People should know the depth and width of expertise which is inside an agency today.

Image by Ann H

“So you work in an ad agency?”

“You must be a master of branding and making cool films”

I must admit, that’s how I am perceived when I tell people about my job. And it takes great effort to explain to them that a modern agency does things beyond that.


Yes, agencies work with marketing departments in building brand strategy, distinct brand identity, and assets, and then design really creative, insightful communication which you see on TV, Social Media, Billboards, and beyond.

But modern marketing agency has evolved way beyond that. If you are someone looking to build a career in a marketing agency, or someone seeking to broaden your role of traditional style communication – I’ve put together a guide for you.

If you’re already living the agency life, like me, this will make it easier for you to explain to those who ask how diverse the skillsets are in an agency today.

Career & Roles in Agencies: Beyond Communication

Customer Experience


CX is arguably the most important function of a modern marketing agency. A great experience today is what traditionally was defined as differentiation or unique selling point.

We live in the “Experience Era” and the way we define the brand is now increasingly being accepted as the experience itself. There are many different skill sets team members to have in this department like UX Strategy, UI design, Product development, and Technology experts because it touches everything. There is a lot of value that can be driven for a business with CX.

Data & Analytics

With digital and technology, today we live in a world where we are drowned by data. A fundamental role of data analytics is to provide action-oriented insights in a story that makes sense for a business or a department. From understanding customer behavior to the performance of a campaign, from business intelligence dashboards to pricing models – there is no dearth of use cases for marketing when it comes to data analytics.

Product Development

A product is great when it helps solve an existing problem for a sizeable set of customer base. It could be tapping a completely unmet need to increase the efficiency of an existing offering. Understanding the end user, the products available in the market, and your core strength as a company can unlock many new revenue streams with a product.

One can be a product manager, user experience expert, growth hacker, creative technologist, or a developer. It is just like building a new digital product like next Airbnb or Uber in many ways.

Marktech & Sales Enablement

Technology has touched the marketing ecosystem in many ways. A lot of things today have been automated/digitized, and AI is bringing on power never thought of before. You could become an expert is multiple marketing suites right from Adobe to Salesforce.

Like any other field, there is no dearth of specializations required to deploy and run a marktech platform. You can utilize your skills in technology engineering, project management, or creative thinking in this domain.


While the consultancies move towards what agencies have been doing, the agencies are doing the same. What makes agencies an advantage on this turf is the deep expertise on customers, for they have been the voice of customers for decades. Today, many agencies have their own advisory services, and if you have a smart skill set with a business degree – this might be the space for you to build your career in.

So, next time when someone asks you the question – give them the long answer. People should know the depth and width of expertise which is inside an agency today.

The views expressed in this article are personal, and not necessarily those of the author’s employer.

Amandeep Singh

Amandeep Singh

Amandeep is Head of Commercial Growth & CX at VMLY&R in Malaysia

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