How data for the Agency Report are collected

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Advertising Age's DataCenter produced the Agency Family Trees 2008 as a print-edition poster and our new interactive AgencyFamilyTrees08, an online database application. The poster shows primary holdings of the world's top four agency companies by 2007 revenue. The online application shows holdings of the world's top 50 agency companies.

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The database and online report are part of premium content available to Ad Age DataCenter subscribers. Please visit or e-mail for subscription information or to purchase copies of the print edition or pullout poster.

The 64th annual Advertising Age Agency Report, published May 5, 2008, was produced by the Ad Age DataCenter. The report appeared in Ad Age's print edition and on It includes rankings of more than 800 advertising, marketing-services and media agencies based on 2007 revenue.

Send your ideas to improve the Agency Report. Update us on holdings. Report errors. E-mail:

Revenue for the report reflects the sum of agency fees; markup on materials and services; and commissions on media billings. Ad Age's definition of revenue excludes pass through. Under this definition, revenue for marketing services agencies often is equivalent to gross profit (sales minus cost of sales).

Ad Age drew information for the Agency Report from agency questionnaires submitted by agencies. Any agencies wishing to receive a questionnaire for Ad Age's spring 2009 report should e-mail a request to New questionnaires also will be available for download in early 2009 at

Agencies generally submit revenue and other data on that questionnaire. Ad Age estimates revenue for most agencies owned by publicly held agency companies and for some independent agencies.

Most publicly held agency companies choose not to publicly disclose revenue at the agency level. These firms opted to reduce their disclosure after Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in July 2002.

The Ad Age DataCenter estimates revenue based on analysis of available agency, holding-company and market data, including input from industry executives.

Figures for 2006 are based on data gathered and analyzed in 2008 and may be restated from figures published in the previous Agency Report.

In preparing rankings, Ad Age first determines an agency's type: advertising, marketing services or media. Classification depends on where the agency gets a majority of revenue.

Regardless of classification, each agency has a chance to appear on an Ad Age all-industry ranking of agencies from all disciplines. This is a new ranking that debuted in the May 2008 report.

Beyond that all-disciplines tally, agencies are ranked on one of three charts: ad agencies (based on revenue from core advertising services); marketing services; media.

The marketing-services ranking is based on the agency's combined revenue from marketing services, including direct marketing, promotion, digital and branding but excluding public relations and healthcare.

Ad Age recognizes that both ad agencies and marketing-services agencies often provide services involving digital, direct marketing and promotion. As a result, both ad agencies and marketing-services agencies are considered for breakout rankings of digital, direct marketing and promotion. For these rankings, Ad Age applies a 75% rule:

If revenue from the discipline in question represents less than 75% of an agency's total, only the discipline's amount is shown for that agency in the chart. However, if the discipline's amount is greater than 75% of an agency's total revenue, an agency is included in that discipline at 100%. The rationale: When digital, for example, accounts for 75%-plus of an agency's revenue, other disciplines such as direct marketing largely support the agency's primary business.

Ad Age recognizes that digital services often overlap with other services. For example, a marketing-services agency with a focus on direct marketing may employ digital services for a major portion of its direct work. So the agency will appear on the direct marketing ranking based on its direct work; and on the digital ranking based on the portion of its direct work that involves digital services.

Agencies classified as healthcare, with 50% or more of revenue generated by healthcare, are not ranked among ad agencies or marketing-services shops in the report. Instead, they are ranked on a separate healthcare-agencies chart. However, an agency with a healthcare discipline in which revenue from that discipline is less than 50% of total revenue is classified as an ad agency and ranked among ad agencies.

Rankings show agencies' parent companies. In some cases, especially with multicultural agencies, the "parent" owns less than 50% of the agency.

Average annual exchange rates, posted with the questionnaires available at, are applied to non-U.S. currencies. Ad Age's historic treatment of currencies leaves each year with its own rate.

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