A personalized campaign allows an agency to utilize its clients' records to reach its audience by sending targeted messages and promotions, which often results in improved business results. This pull is achieved by using detailed databases with a large quantity of information about existing and potential customers. This information, in the form of text, data and sometimes images, is then placed into a document in a way that is easy for customers to locate and act upon. Variable data technology should be embraced by advertising agencies as a definite way to improve response rates and generate more business. But what do advertising agencies actually think of personalized campaigns? Is the technology being embraced by agencies to improve business results? Does the type and size of the agency make a difference in whether or not personalized campaigns are used? Does the agency's client base alter the use of personalization? To find solutions to these questions, a survey was given to a random group of advertising agencies drawn from The Red Books list of agencies. A total of 250 agencies completed the telephone survey. Also, an in depth questionnaire was completed by a direct marketing agency using personalized communications, to complement the survey results. What was found was that an average of only 23% of the work the agencies do actually involves using a form of personalized communications. Seventy-nine percent of clients requesting personalization are small businesses ($100 million or less in annual revenue), 15% are medium size businesses ($101 million to $1 billion in annual revenue), and almost 6% of the clients are large businesses with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Forty-eight percent of clients requesting personalized communications were business-to-business clients. Almost 42% were business-to-consumer clients, and the other 11% were both. To determine if there is a difference in the use of personalization according to the agency type, agencies were grouped into three categories: 1) direct marketing and web agencies, 2) traditional full service agencies, and 3) boutique agencies. Results indicate that there is no significant difference in the use of personalization among these three agency types. Direct marketing and web agencies use the most amount of personalization at 25%, followed closely by traditional full service agencies at 24%. Boutique agencies use the least amount of personalization at 20%. To determine if there is a difference in the use of personalization in relation to agency size, the agencies were classified into three groups according to their annual billings: 1) small agencies with $5 million or less in annual revenue, 2) medium agencies with annual revenue between $5,000,001 and $50 million, and 3) large agencies with annual revenue of $50,000,0001 or more. Results determined that there is no significant difference in the use of personalization among these different agency sizes. Large agencies use the most amount of personalization at 27.6%, followed by medium sized agencies at 26.7% and small agencies at 20.7%. Finally, to determine if there is a difference in the use of personalization in relation to client type, agencies were asked on average, what percentages of their accounts are primarily business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), and a mixture of both. Results indicate that again, there is no significant difference in the use of personalization among these client types. Agencies that served a mixed array of clients use the highest percentage of personalization at 29.5%, while B2B and B2C clients use almost the same percentage of personalization at 21.5% and 22.1%, respectively.
Print Media (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Media Sciences (CIAS)
Moore, Kathryn C., "The role of advertising agencies on the demand for personalized communications" (2004). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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