Agencies or Companies: Which is best for marketers?

What are we talking about in this article?

The search for a job was never an easy and simple endeavor. And the search for a satisfying career path? Even harder. There are many important aspects that need to be analyzed and evaluated in detail. Salary, working hours, professional development possibilities, industry specialization, culture style.

When taking the first steps into the workforce one often forgets to take into account a vital characteristic that will have a huge impact on the career path: job fulfillment. Recent graduates can sometimes fall into a space that is clouded with fear and desperation. If we take a look at the market, and the layer of uncertainty settled by the pandemic, it seems logical that future marketers experience certain levels of pessimism. Which can be translated into taking any job that will have them.

It is easy to admonish this practice while being far away from unemployment and financial difficulties, we will not be doing that today. Instead, we will be focusing on the possibilities and career path definition offered by the divide in the marketing industry: In-house or agency positions.


Agency-Side vs. Brand-Side: cons and pros

Many creative and marketing work opportunities are set in between the great divide, in-house or agency? Most often marketing talent chooses aside and focuses on growing inside that business area of digital marketing.  Changing throughout your career can be challenging, but not impossible. To make that choice you need to understand what each side entails, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It is important to evaluate your strengths, work preferences, interest, and your personality. These are key aspects to take into account for a better professional fit, due to the fact that the pace and dynamics of agency or client-side can be on opposite sides of the spectrum, even if digital marketing is becoming ever more comparable.

The main aspect of the division comes into focus when thinking about the type of client and industry you will service. In-house marketing calls for a one-brand basis in a single market. The work done is in-depth, in one theme, most likely specializing in one type of marketing strategy. While agency work requires more flexibility, working with several brands and different types of clients, acquiring a holistic approach, and learning within multiple industries.

Working Hours

When thinking about your career path it’s important to evaluate the way it will affect your life. Do you value dependable hours, day to day stability? Do you find the 9 to 5 format stifling or wish to work on a more project-based style?

Nowadays digital work can include any sort of web-based crisis that requires you to log on after hours and take control of the situation. Brand workers historically had a more grounded work schedule, but depending on the nature of the job you are doing and the culture of your business, this may not be the case anymore.

There is a similar shift going down on the agency side of the industry. Agencies used to have a bad reputation of not taking care of the work hours their talent dedicated each day. Asking impossible deadlines of their employees. Thankfully this issue is being confronted, as work-life balance is becoming a deciding factor when choosing an employer. Agencies are taking several steps into taking care of their staff’s health, and assuring their work does not continue into their personal time.



Income is one of the heavy hitters when it comes to choosing your next job opportunity. Salary can often trump many of the other variables and benefits that a company can offer.

On the in-house market, compensation has been historically higher, with tech companies and consultancies offering truly competitive paychecks. They are setting a higher bar for others in the marketing industry. Google, Amazon, Facebook, or other multinational giants have the resources for reaching across the divide and tempting prospective hires.

Agencies are making amends regarding this topic. They are offering better salaries and packages that include better healthcare and paid social benefits. The difference will be set according to each case scenario. It will depend on the type of service offered by the company or agency, and the scope of work involved.

For the sake of comparison let’s take a look at the highest paying marketing agencies and the highest paying marketing areas inside global companies.

Industry Specialization

While working on the client-side or in-house, most marketers get an incredibly deep understanding of a type of service and/or industry. This can be a true asset down the line, if you know you like a certain type of work area or industry you can become a specialist in that field.

You can also gain valuable experience managing the internal working of a company, as well as developing communication with outsourced collaborators. Continually thinking about new ideas for the same brand can be a little tiresome, but some people are better suited for it and prefer to get a distinctive forte in one particular area.

On the other hand, inside an agency you can learn a more holistic approach, you will most likely juggle multiple clients, from different industries. Peculiar brands, several market areas, and a multitude of clients’ points of view. It’s fast-paced, incredibly diverse work, some find it absolutely more demanding and fun.

This type of work will be a great experience and will help develop a diverse range of skill-sets. If you want to gain a diversified portfolio and encompass insight into the industry then this is the way you should go.

Don’t be misled, it will be hard work, with high pressure, having to manage several projects at once. Taking care of each of your client’s projects and satisfaction, you will improve your business intelligence, your nerve, and your multitasking abilities.

Growth Potential

The structure brought forth by the companies on the in-house side is a great advantage for internal promotion. The companies usually carry annual or semestral performance reviews, giving the talent a chance to move through the internal hierarchy, by asking to move to a different area, interviewing for higher positions. 

Big international operations even allow their employees to be moved to other offices in other parts of the world, which is very attractive for young people wishing for the experience of living in another country.

On the agency side, the environment tends to be dependent on meritocracy. If you excel in your area, and this gets recognized, you can take advantage of the fluidity of the industry and rapidly develop your career. The negative side is that the agency lifestyle has the bad reputation of being more of a popularity contest, the merit associated with their creatives is not based upon annual performance reviews. This is starting to change, but personality usually is a very important aspect of professional development.

A career path should involve education, a certain skill set, and more importantly, interest. Let’s not quote phrases such as “If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life”. But there’s a certain type of work fulfillment that can be achieved. Let’s look at the most sought-after jobs in the marketing industry.

Company Culture

The agency environment is usually fast-paced, pressured, and fun. With open-plan offices, after-hours, non-mandatory, social events, and a sense of collaboration and team-based work. The work-hard, play-hard mentality is still very much alive and has an inviting effect that helps improve the bond between employees.

In conclusion, there are many options based on different types of skills and interests. Creativity is always going to be a part of the marketing world, but it can be used in many fields, critical data analysis, mind-blowing narratives that improve via SEO utilization, charisma-driven individuals that can sell even the most difficult products.

The marketing industry really has a job for everyone, and regardless of whether you decide to go into the agency path or the in-house market way, you should always remember that there’s a chance for aligning interest, skill, and hiring opportunities. 




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