How to Choose an Ad Agency for Creative Production

Irep Inc.

The success or failure of programmatic advertising is heavily influenced by the quality of Ad Agency or production company, making the selection process crucial. However, since the performance records of these companies are rarely made public, many decision-makers may struggle to determine the criteria for selection. In this article, we interviewed Mr. Naoto Yuzawa, Head of Irep Creative Unit, about the key points to consider when choosing a company to handle the creative production of programmatic advertising.

Define the purpose of commissioning an ad agency or production company  

– When outsourcing the creative production to an ad agency, what criteria should we use during the selection process?


Creative for programmatic advertising isn’t easily assessed by superficial factors like the quality of graphics or videos. While conventional advertising can be judged based on factors like awards or the reputation of the art director, programmatic advertising lacks external indicators such as track records (i.e., advertising effectiveness) being publicly available. Therefore, decisions cannot rely solely on the company or individual names.

In essence, the absence of clear indicators often leads to decisions based on factors like the company’s reputation, size, visibility in web articles, or even prioritizing cost over quality. Recommendations from acquaintances also play a significant role in the decision-making process.

– It seems common to choose based on acquaintance’s recommendations or the affordability of production costs.


Indeed, it’s a common pattern we often encounter. While it may not always guarantee optimal outcomes, there are instances where it can lead to positive results. It’s not necessarily a definitive negative approach.

– When considering criteria other than familiarity or affordability to commission an external company, what points should be considered? 


When commissioning an ad agency or production company, it’s crucial to clearly define the objectives of what you want to achieve. While this may seem obvious, it’s surprising how often this awareness is overlooked. Paradoxically, I’d like to emphasize that good creative is creative that achieves its purpose. For example, if the goal is to increase online traffic, and you receive a request for banner or video production because “the creative isn’t good and needs improvement,” upon closer analysis, you may find issues with the website’s structure post-click or mismatches between ad targeting and creative content. In many cases, the fundamental problem exists beyond surface-level advertising creativity. Therefore, it’s essential to consider whether the ad agency can handle analysis and planning beyond creative consultations as a critical aspect. 

Is the company able to handle all 3 layers cohesively?

– After setting your objectives, what are the key points for choosing an agency to hire?


It’s whether the company can seamlessly handle all three layers of programmatic advertising. In programmatic advertising creative work, there are generally three layers:

  1. Planning
  2. Production
  3. Evaluation 

The first layer involves determining requirements, identifying challenges, and devising strategies, which is the planning layer. The second layer is the production layer, where actual production occurs through interactions with directors and designers. The third layer is the evaluation layer, which verify and analyze the results to explore the next steps.

As mentioned above, if the three layers are not integrated, it’s difficult to produce results, so it’s best to find a company that can handle all three. 

– But it seems hard to determine whether they can handle all aspects just by looking at thier website.


You’re right. Judging solely based on external information can be difficult, but considering that some companies adhere to a complete division of labor, it’s essential to take such information into account when evaluating. To be more specific, companies where the creative director oversees planning, production, and performance evaluation collectively tend to have a higher likelihood of achieving success. It’s worth repeating that even within the realm of creativity, various factors contributing to success are dispersed across planning to performance evaluation. Compared to companies operating under a relay-style complete division of labor, those where the director handles everything cohesively can analyze the planning, production, and performance evaluation layers holistically for optimal outcomes. 

Be wary of companies that heavily emphasize mass production or tool implementation 

– Are there any other points to consider when making a choice?


I would recommend verifying the approach to creative production in terms of quantity and method. Companies that tout their ability to produce a large quantity of creative content or advertising agencies and production companies that focus on selling tools or solutions should be carefully considered.

In the realm of performance-based advertising, simply producing a large volume of creative content is not necessarily advantageous. It’s essential to produce and operate an appropriate amount based on past data to effectively utilize machine learning. The correlation between the quantity of creative content and its performance is not always direct. Moreover, distributing a large number of ads consumes advertising spend, which can also be viewed as an opportunity cost.

While there are cases where success is achieved by implementing tools and producing a large volume of creative patterns, it’s akin to gambling in many respects. Therefore, careful consideration should be given before allocating significant advertising spend to such initiatives.

– Clearly defining objectives seems to be effective even in situations like these.


That’s right. I have the opportunity to listen to representatives from my client companies. I often hear stories about mass-producing creatives that didn’t produce results and implementing tools that didn’t work. I can imagine that there are many companies engaging in such business.

That’s why I urge you to keep these points in mind when chooisng external partners in the future.

Irep focus on the sustainability of performance results. 

– Irep covers all of the points we discussed here, right? 


The above two points are crucial for Irep, which emphasizes the sustainability of performance results over one-off achievements or sales.

Earlier, I mentioned that the three layers of creative production being disjointed make it challenging to achieve results. At Irep, however, we standardize this by integrating them into a single workflow for creative production teams.

Additionally, at Irep, since production revenue targets are not incorporated into individual performance evaluations, I believe this also has an impact in that there are no sales representatives pushing a large volume of creatives.

Maintaining consistent quality through a robust education system 

– Standardizing the three layers of creative design as an integrated process creates the problem of individual directors having a wide range of tasks. Quality control becomes challenging, and I imagine it’s also difficult to secure talent capable of handling all three areas. How does Irep address these challengings?


To address this challenge, Irep implements a comprehensive training program for new employees. During the initial three months of employment, employees undergo this program to acquire in-depth knowledge across all three layers, ensuring that they become directors with proficiency in the skills for each layer.

In tasks requiring multitasking, project success often hinges on the presence of highly skilled individuals. However, by relying on our robust training system, we can consistently deliver high-quality results without being dependent on specific individuals. While there’s a growing trend towards in-house operations, securing talent for roles outside core business functions remains a significant challenge for companies.

Moreover, our commitment to prioritizing performance result is highly valued by our clients. Nearly all clients express a desire for continued collaboration. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please feel free to reach out for further discussions.

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Irep Inc. is an award-winning global digital marketing agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our headquarters are in Tokyo and our network spans more than 20 countries. In Japan, we are ranked No. 1 for performance-based marketing. We also offer highly specialized market entry, as well as integrated marketing and localization services. Since 1997, our data-driven solutions have effectively led our diverse international clientele to continuous success in Japan, Asia, and beyond.

Irep Inc.
Address: 900 Concar Dr. Suite 400, San Mateo, California 9440