How Businesses Buy Advertising Agency Services

A way to segment advertising agencies' markets?

Woonbong Na
Silla University
Roger Marshall
Nanyang Technological University
Youngseok Son
Hallym University

Exactly how do companies select their advertising agency? There has been a great deal of effort expended to answer this question with, as yet, only a modicum of success. The major parameters of the selection process are understood quite well at a very general level-after all, the selection of an agency is somewhat similar to so many other business-to-business purchase decisions, so follows much the same pattern. Even here there are differences, though. It has been noted elsewhere, for instance, that the buying center for agency selection is smaller that that for most products; more in line with those of companies purchasing the services of, say, a public accountant (Lynn, 1987; Marshall and Na, 1994; Na and Marshall, 2001). Nevertheless, it seems that companies do go through a fairly typical business-to-business purchasing decision, where evaluative criteria are determined within a (small) buying center in some complex, interactive way, and then a choice is made from a set of alternatives.