What Is an Agency of Record?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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The agency of record is an advertising firm contractually authorized to represent a company in media buys and other public relations activities. Advertisers work through this agency in negotiations with potential placements in regards to ad placement and other activities. It also provides consulting services to its clients to help them develop effective and appropriate ad campaigns for a given market. Companies may have multiple agencies of record to handle international advertising needs.

One important role of the agency of record is as the only legally authorized entity to negotiate and finalize advertising contracts. It meets with the client company to discuss a campaign and where it wants to distribute advertising, and seeks appropriate advertising spots. The agency negotiates prices and other details of the contract, and acts as a legal representative to sign the contract. Advertising material and payments go through this agency, which places them appropriately.

This firm can also provide consulting services. A company that wants to establish itself in a new market may work with an agency of record to explore advertising options and develop an effective campaign. Consultants can discuss the tone of the campaign, the best kinds of advertisements to use, the most appropriate placement, and other topics. The company wants to place ads efficiently and effectively, and relies on an agent to offer sound advice.


Companies enter a contract with an agency, usually committing to a set period of time or an ad campaign. The contract can be broken under special circumstances, as when the agency fails to meet terms or engages in activities that might harm the client. Many companies choose an agency and stick with it for decades, only switching as part of radical restructuring if it becomes apparent that the agency no longer meets the need.

Information about the agency of record can be found in the documentation associated with a company. Ad agencies can also list their clients for the benefit of potential advertising venues that want to contact them to discuss ad placement. In some cases, the agency may create a separate website to represent a given company to advertisers. Websites can also support back-end structures like internal mail systems, storage of promotional materials that individual stores can download and use, and so forth. These functions are not visible to the public but can be an important part of the services offered by the agency.


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