If you're interested in pursuing a career in advertising, this page is a great place to start.
Find out more about how advertising is distinct from marketing and PR, what types of roles are available, how to gain work experience and much more.
What is advertising?
Traditionally advertising agencies produced, placed and provided advice about advertising material across a range of media, including TV, print, radio and the internet. They also advertised at the point of sale, on billboards and using direct mail promotional campaigns.
Although this is still a part of advertising, digital media has transformed the industry with advertisers now directing more money and attention towards digital advertising channels. In 2020, search (a technique that displays adverts in search engine results) and social media was the most popular digital format with millions spent on these advertising channels.
How does it differ from marketing and PR?
Advertising agencies create campaigns to persuade people to buy or use products, services or organisations and do this by launching advertising campaigns via traditional or even more likely digital advertising. People employed in advertising generally work for an advertising agency.
Agencies are selected by an organisation's marketing team or consultancy who will brief the advertising agency on the product or service they wish to promote.
Marketing is the overall strategy and process of selling and raising awareness of products and services with an advertising campaign being part of this strategy.
Public relations is about getting positive publicity and media coverage, and acting as a spokesperson for a person, product or service.
See our section on public relations
See our section on marketing
How is the industry structured?
The advertising industry is made up of the following:
- Global agencies sit at the top of the industry and control different agency brands across the world and disseminate contracts to their media channels to create a strategy. Examples include WPP, Omnicom and Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH).
- Independent agencies - the vast majority of these agencies are based in London and have traditionally offered advertising aimed at a mass market such as TV, but with the digital revolution, this is continuing to change vastly towards digital.
Outside London, agencies tend to fall into two categories in terms of their scope:
- Integrated offer – an agency that may have started off as a design/artwork studio and have expanded to diversify their offer
- Single-focused – a local agency that specialises in design, digital, PR or direct marketing
Go to the IPA Agency Finder list
Additional information on advertising and its make up is included in the IPA Career Guide below:
Trends in advertising
Advertising has been transformed by technology and is trending towards providing a personalised approach to advertising.
OA large percent of advertising is now online, working with web and mobile, and, increasingly, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
The industry is increasingly moving towards data analysis to create better advertising, leading to more opportunities for those with computer science and maths backgrounds, as well as social scientists who can link this data to human behaviour.
What roles are available?
You can find out more about some of these roles and the other roles in marketing, public relations and advertising on the Prospects website.
The professional body, IPA, has a webpage on finding the right role for you.
Starting salaries can be around £20 - 25,000 per year. The industry is fast-moving and there are positions that people can work their way up in, with salaries rising to over £100k for senior positions such as creative director, managing director and head of strategy.
Multinational companies are likely to offer higher salaries than independent agencies.
How can I find work experience and my first job?
Opportunities to gain work experience
The IPA have a useful Careers Guide, which includes:
- Use the IPA's Agency Finder to make speculative applications to agencies, although this is a competitive area to obtain work experience in so be prepared to make several applications
- Consider the area of advertising you want to go into and target work experience accordingly (i.e. writing for University or other publications would be beneficial for copywriting)
- Marketing experience could also be beneficial. See our section on marketing
- LinkedIn is a way of raising your profile, advertising yourself and approaching contacts for work experience
- Locally it can be worth literally 'knocking on the doors' of advertising agencies in Nottingham with a copy of your CV
- Consider gaining digital skills with our Digital Marketing Academy
What are the entry routes into the sector?
Many entrants to advertising are graduates from a wide range of disciplines.
While there are numerous postgraduate degrees in advertising and marketing, these are not essential. Relevant work experience is often preferred. If you're considering a postgraduate course, do some research to see which courses and organisations are valued by employers
Regardless of your degree background, advertising agencies will be seeking creative thinkers and those with a passion for the industry. Relevant work experience is highly desirable. For account management and media buying, customer service experience will enhance your commercial awareness.
- Log in to My Career – our vacancy database.
- Our Nottingham Internship Scheme offers opportunities with small-to-medium sized local companies.
- A few bigger advertising agencies offer graduate schemes. These are competitive and you may need to apply for these in October or November.
- Many openings are never advertised so speculative applications are common. You will need do some research before making your application. A good starting point is to search for companies on the IPA website and Yell
IPA - job listing pages
Opportunities aimed at encouraging applicants under-represented in advertising
Brixton Finishing School
Creative Access – Has many jobs in the creative sector targeted at under-represented groups (though not exclusively)
What can I do next at Nottingham?