Advertising Agency Billable Rates

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Advertising Agency Billable Rates

After an exhaustive search of industry sources, review sites, and individual agencies, we were unable to definitively determine the typical billing rates for creative, web development, and marketing strategy or consultation services for small- to mid-sized advertising agencies in small markets in the United States. However, we were able to find some sample rates from a variety of sources that provide rough estimates.

To assess the billing rates of advertising agencies in cities with fewer than 100,000 residents, we used this list of city populations, as well as other sources.

Agency Billing Rates

  • According to Best Draft, a graphic design agency with seven employees in Irvine, CA, hourly design fees are in the range of $85, and a logo design project would be priced at around $800 to $1,500. However, Irvine has a population of over 250,000, so this fee might be higher than in a smaller city.
  • Best Draft charges $5,000-$7,500 for website development.
  • Ladybugz Interactive Design, a design firm with three employees in Southborough, Massachusetts, a city with a population of around 10,000, suggests they have an hourly rate of $75, noting a project price of $6,000 for "logo, business cards and a custom-designed WordPress website."
  • For 2016, the 4As Billing Report, the most recent for which solid data could be ascertained, found that "agency-blended mid-point average hourly rates in 2016 were $155, a two percent increase from the 2014 average of $152."
  • According to a 2018 article at Beacon Media + Marketing, the average hourly billing in large New York creative agencies was over $600, while other regions may bill closer to $300 per hour. In smaller markets, agencies typically charge $95-225.
  • Credo did a survey on digital marketing prices in several countries, segmented by agency size but not by city size. The average hourly rates vary, but in the 21-50 employee range, the typical rate appears to be $151-200.
  • A 2019 Marketing Pricing Survey, conducted by industry veteran Jason Falls, found that 27.3% of respondents said their average blended hourly rate is $126-150, while 18.2% said it was $176-200. Another 14.5% have hourly rates of $76-100. Two price ranges, $101-125 and $151-175, each accounted for 12.7% of respondents.
  • The same survey indicates that marketing strategy services increase the hourly rate, with 63% of respondents reporting they charge $126 per hour for these services.
  • While the survey does not get too specific, it states that smaller markets do report "lower average hourly rates."
  • The Content Refinery, a digital marketing company with under ten employees in Corrales, New Mexico (population under 9,000) advertises rates of $100-149 per hour.
  • Media House Agency in Santa Fe, New Mexico (population around 85,000) has under ten employees and shows hourly pricing of $50-99.
  • Mistress, a creative agency in Santa Monica, California (population 93,200) averages $100-149 per hour, but it has over 50 employees.
  • The Miller Group is a Pacific Palisades, California (population under 25,000) agency with fewer than ten employees, billing $150-199 per hour.

Research Strategy

We began by looking at advertising industry data sources, such as 4As, which offers annual billing rate reports. However, these reports are not freely available. A 2016 report, released in June 2017, offers some rough estimates by agency size but not by city size, and this data is likely too old to be relevant going into 2020.

We also searched for articles outlining the costs associated with specific jobs or project types, hoping to determine some averages. While we found a few references, they are not entirely reliable or do not offer data specific to location or agency size. Piktochart, for instance, suggests the average hourly fee for a graphic design agency is between $74 and $350, but it does not qualify this data by agency size or location. Most website design pricing sources were segmented by the type of website, rather than the size of the agency of location.

Then, we searched sources such as Thumbtack for agencies promoting their business via these channels. While we found information from a couple of agencies, as outlined in our findings, the data was sparse and did not cover marketing strategy or consulting rates.

In addition, we searched for polls or surveys conducted among advertising agencies, which resulted in some of the data provided in our findings. However, much of this information was not segmented by agency size or location.

Finally, we searched for creative agencies in several cities with populations of less than 100,000, such as Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Roswell, New Mexico, but we found no publicly reported pricing. We also looked for general reports on advertising agency pricing in these regions, but we found only some billboard pricing.
Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • "Graphic design services cost between $100 and $850 on average nationwide, depending on the size of the project, number of revisions, and expertise of the designer."
  • "According to BestDraft in Irvine, California, expect to pay around $85 per hour for a graphic designer. "
Quotes
  • "Further, agency-blended mid-point average hourly rates in 2016 were $155, a two percent increase from the 2014 average of $152."
  • "An increase in mid-range average billing rates was cited among account executives $110 (+3%), art director $142 (+2%), copywriter $134 (+2%), media planner $113 (+4%) and media buyer $105 (-1%)."
Quotes
  • "In smaller regions or markets, you can expect to pay anywhere from $95-$225 per hour depending on the service and the skill of the person supplying that service. "
  • "More and more agencies have gone to a “blended rate” — a rough average rate for all services and skill levels. This keeps the accounting simple, and with smaller agencies, it can work in favor of the client since they will get even senior level staff involvement at an average rate."
Quotes
  • "Just more than one quarter of those who responded reported rates of $126-$150 per hour. Some 18% said they charge $51-$75 while 14% were at the $76-$100 per hour bracket. A 13% clip filled in the $101-$125 per hour measure. But 11% of the respondents reported being at the higher price range — $176 hour or more."
  • "As expected, when we asked how much an hourly rate for strategic services was, the numbers shifted upward. Almost two-thirds (63%) charge $126 per hour or more for the “thinking” parts of marketing. "
  • "Creative direction takes that high-end billing back up to 60% charging at least $126 per hour for the work. Creative execution work brings the number down to 50% with a larger bulk in the lower bracket of $126-$150."