THE 4A’S 2019

Year in Review

Marketing agencies, accustomed to working in an environment of constant change, thrive on the dynamic forces of creativity, commerce, and culture colliding. Agencies’ breadth of expertise, objective guidance, creative problem-solving, and steady partnership has never been so crucial to marketers’ growth as it is right now.

In the Quantum Age of Marketing, the rate of technological change outpaces, outsmarts, and outperforms business. And 2019 has been another year of business-as-unusual, characterized by shifts in the agency-marketer dynamic, increasing focus on data privacy and brand and consumer safety, and further blending of business and marketing strategy in a customer-centric world.

As agencies continue to use technology and data to help marketers communicate with increasing sophistication, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other local legislative initiatives could upend the ability to reach consumers with the most relevant information. As a founding member of the Privacy for America advocacy coalition, the 4A’s is working with federal legislators to find solutions that work for the public and marketers. The 4A’s-led Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB) also expanded on its mission by publishing industry-wide guidelines and a playbook on brand safety.

Given the quantum pace of change, marketers continued evolving alternate models, including in-house teams and addressing costs. But there’s a reason agencies keep winning clients (and winning them back). As many marketers learn, there’s no reliable shortcut around the investment a strong agency partnership can deliver to a brand’s growth. After all, that’s the mutual goal for marketers and agencies. And the 4A’s will continue to be your champion and partner in driving growth to create a positive impact on commerce and culture.

Marla Kaplowitz, President & Chief Executive Officer

“I don’t care how sophisticated your agency’s technology is. There’s no investment you could make that comes close to the value and the power of the people you hire,“ Marla Kaplowitz, President & CEO of 4A’s, said in her opening address at [email protected]

To our newest agency, partner, and educational members: welcome! you’re in good company.

Moving The Industry Forward

Beyond reports, conferences, and other benefits you experience at an agency level, the 4A’s stands up, speaks out, and acts in the best interest of the entire industry.

Promoting the Value of Agencies


Preparing Agencies for the Quantum Age of Marketing


Key Issues Covered in Communities

New Business Practices New Workforce Models Change Management Disruption New Agency Models Data & Privacy The Media Ecosystem

Addressing Data & Privacy Needs for the Industry


Creating a Safe, Dynamic, and Measurable Media Landscape


“The 4A’s continues to help the agency side of the ad ecosystem raise the bar in terms of best practice and quality—for networked agencies, as well as regional agencies. Particularly what they are doing in the area of brand safety, and unsung initiatives like the Advertising Protection Bureau, is first-class.”

Erin Matts
CEO, Hearts & Science US

Can’t-Miss Moments of 2019

Driving Business


engagements with industry professionals through 1:1 consulting, national events, town hall and roundtable discussions, guidance, and thought leadership to move members’ businesses and the industry forward.

Tackling Day-to-Day Challenges

4A’s committees and roundtables give our members access to industry-leading expertise that helps them with the business of doing business. We delivered best practices, guidance, and insight from peers and thought leaders across the industry ecosystem.

2019 Roundtable Topics:
  • Programmatic and automation
  • Client/agency relationship management
  • Successful prospecting and opportunity screening strategies
  • IP ownership
  • Project management and account management ways of working

“Through access to the 4A’s industry leadership, knowledge, and perspectives, we have been able to solve the unexpected business challenges that our industry continues to confront. Through connections made through the 4A’s, we have been inspired to reshape our business model. Most importantly, together with our 4A’s peers, we are leading positive changes in advertising from within.”

Andrew Graff
CEO, Allen & Gerritsen

Unparalleled Access

Whether it’s our Accelerate Access Program for members-only discounts, face-to-face meetings with leading industry platforms, or viewing media upfronts, 4A’s ensures our members have access to and are able to establish connections with companies and service providers they may not otherwise have access to.

2,108 requests for 4A’s Guidance and Benchmarking

“Being a part of the 4A’s is about access—to research, to insights, to resources—but most importantly, to people. The 4A’s acts as a ‘complexity guide’ to the ever-evolving challenges and multiple dimensions of the ad industry. The 4A’s has its ear to the ground and brings what we need to know as agency leaders to the forefront. It’s an incredibly powerful resource we love to leverage on all fronts.”

Sharon Napier
Founder & Chair, Partners + Napier


research requests fulfilled by our research team to help members drive new business, support their current accounts, and enlighten them about agency business practices, industry trends, marketing strategies, and internal training programs.

This Year’s Top Research Topics

  • GEN-Z

CBD is everywhere! Learn about CBD consumer segments, advertising regulations, and best practices in marketing CBD products in this article by Stacie Calabrese, VP, 4A’s Research Services.



We help recruit.

We help recruit.


MAIP fellows, empowered by 132 agencies across 19 markets and 15 disciplines. Our Multicultural Advertising Intern Program provides the industry with the best talent through world-class development opportunities and great results for students, as 96% of our graduating fellows get job offers through our program.

We help recruit.


alumni connections across 11 events nationwide. These events provided opportunities for community support, networking, and professional development for MAIP alumni throughout the industry.

We help recruit.


grants and scholarships distributed from the 4A’s Foundation to multicultural students, providing support for their advertising and marketing education to advance learning and career opportunities in the industry.

We help develop.

We help develop.


agency leaders of today and tomorrow honed their skills through 4A’s Launch for Leaders, Executive Leadership Program, and the Institute for Advanced Advertising Studies.

We help develop.


professional development workshops available to members to enhance and develop skills in our fast-moving industry. Workshops ranged from Strategy Bootcamps to Essential Presentation Skills.

We help develop.


active learners in the 4A’s Professional & Organizational Development site. This flexible online learning platform includes topics such as account management, business development, communication, creative, digital technology, finance, legal, leadership, media/data analytics, project management and strategy and planning.

We help culture thrive.

We help members retain great talent by fostering environments where people thrive. This year we provided strategies for balancing work-life responsibilities through both [email protected] and [email protected] programs; created a workshop addressing mental health in the workplace; and expanded the 4A’s Workplace Enlightenment Certification (WeC) program to provide support for leaders in the creation of a more equitable and inclusive environment that allows all employees to grow their skill sets and evolve their careers.

“With so many concurrent trends affecting advertising agencies in challenging ways, the 4A’s is the only organization shedding light in the tunnel. From research to advocacy to events to its focus on much-needed talent initiatives, we deem support of the 4A’s as not just critical to our daily business operations, but even more critical to the long-term health of a venerable industry.”

Barry Wacksman
Vice Chairman, Global Chief Strategy Officer, R/GA



people protected through 4A’s Insurance Programs, providing members with great coverage through our group buying power.


payroll coverage remained steady, in the 4A’s Workers’ Compensation Program while continuing a favorable claims trend and insuring more payroll for less premium.


cumulative dividends given back to agencies participating in 4A’s Workers’ Compensation program.


total 401(k) agency plan assets under management in our competitively priced retirement options.


  • 401(k) Retirement Plans
  • Medical Insurance
  • Group Life & Disability Insurance
  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • PEO Program (New)
  • Production Wrap-up (New)
  • Dental & Vision Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Business Insurance
  • And more


The most important role of the 4A’s is to help our members evolve and adapt in the face of constant change in the Quantum Age of Marketing, and to champion and advocate for members and the industry. As we consider the most critical challenges for 2020, we remain hyper-focused on addressing value in three core areas:

  1. agency compensation, promoting alternatives to current models reflecting the value of agency work;
  2. business-building creativity, to continue to showcase its undeniable power; and
  3. the value of agency partnerships, through the strength of client/agency relationships and compelling work developed together, driving growth and cultural change.

Value is paramount for any member organization. As your partner for business, we continue to identify areas to strengthen and expand services to enrich your membership, such as:

  • ensuring a safe, productive business environment through continued guidance with the Advertiser Protection Bureau (APB)
  • advocating for optimal privacy legislation and regulation with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Privacy for America
  • connecting our member community for open dialogues and exchanges of ideas through our conferences, including the Management Practitioners Forum, Decisions 20/20, The Face of Talent, and StratFest
  • expanding our Professional & Organizational Development (POD) offerings, including new Workplace Enlightenment Certification (WeC)
  • delivering the dynamic, diverse talent our industry needs through our ever-growing Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), and fostering its community of more than 3,500 alumni

We know that in these unprecedented times, you need the 4A’s to have your back, vocally defending and vehemently supporting the value you bring and the growth you create on behalf of clients. Just as marketers need your partnership more than ever, you can count on us to be your greatest advocate, ally, and champion—a role we're proud to play and advance in 2020.

“The 4A’s has been invaluable in helping us to re-engineer our firm and position us for the future.”

Tim Hellige
Chairman, Bandy Carroll Hellige Advertising + Public Relations

Accelerate Your Business With The 4A’s

Join our network of 600+ members and learn how the 4A’s can support your business growth and development today.