The biggest advertisers spend billions of dollars each per year to market their products and services through direct mail, advertising, and promotions. For instance, Verizon spent over $2.8 billion in 2011, and Macy's spent over $1 billion, according to the magazine Advertising Age. In 2011, U.S. marketing-communications agencies generated $35.7 billion in revenue, up 4.7 percent from the previous year despite the economic downturn. In broad terms, an advertising agency is a marketing consultant. It helps the client-for example, a consumer goods manufacturer such as Nike or a service provider such as Charles Schwab-with all aspects of marketing their product or service, from strategy and concept through execution. Strategy involves helping the client make high-level business decisions, such as determining which new products to develop, or how to brand or define itself to the world.Concept is where the agency takes the client's strategy and turns it into specific ideas for advertisements-such as a series of ads featuring "extreme sports" athletes for a soft-drink maker with a strategy to enter the teen market. Execution is where the agency turns the concept into reality with the production of the actual ads: the print layout, the film shoot, the audiotaping. Full-service agencies also handle the placement of ads in print and electronic media so that clients reach their intended audiences.
If you work in a larger agency, you're more likely to specialize than in a small agency, where you're more likely to wear multiple hats. Most people start at the junior or assistant level and move up the ranks-if you come to advertising from another industry, you're likely to start at the bottom. The greatest numbers of entry-level positions exist in account management and media.