Finding a new agency is exciting.

It normally indicates a new dawn, a new creative or a new media direction. Perhaps even a new launch.

But with over 10,000 agencies in the UK, searching and shortlisting for a pitch can be daunting.


How to narrow your marketing agency search?

Depending on your business needs you may want to consider one or two initial filters:


  • IPA Membership – out of the c.10,000 agencies operating in the UK, about 5% are members of the IPA (the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising). IPA Member agencies collectively handle over 85% of the UKs annual £22bn ad spend and represent over 4,000 brands and employ over 25,000 staff.
  • The Drum 100 – The Drum 100 is an annual list of the best-run independent agencies in the UK. 
  • Local – IPA members are listed here in alphabetical order, there are agencies all around the UK from Northern Ireland to London and Edinburgh to Cardiff
  • Exploring new markets – your business may require a partner that can help you move into new international markets, Ardmore has developed its own Global Hub and is a partner in Worldwide Partners Inc which can link your brand up to agencies all over the world. 


What is the IPA?

The IPA is a Chartered Institute which champions advertising as a profession, its power to transform brands and businesses, and best practice.

It safeguards member interests with clients, media owners and Government.

It brings the industry together with our committees and groups.

It leads the debate on creating, delivering and measuring value.

It supports self-regulation.

It underpins media measurement via trading currencies such as BARB.

It provides valuable industry data via our reports and surveys.


Why Shortlist IPA Agencies?

As an IPA member ourselves, we put this question to Patrick Mills, Director of Membership and Professional Development at the IPA. Here’s his 6 biggest reasons…

IPA member agencies demonstrate the highest levels of professional standards which are of considerable benefit to their clients:


  1. A commitment to learning and development 

IPA members can access a wide range of practitioner led courses and nine industry qualifications through the IPA’s Continuous Professional Development Programme. Every agency member must attain accreditation each year to maintain its membership of the IPA.

All members’ staff must complete 24 hours of CPD per year and 10% of agency staff must have passed the IPA’s Legal and Regulation Certificate (LegRegs) and the IPA Commercial Certificate.

At the time of writing Ardmore has two accredited practitioners (MIPAs) amongst its staff.


  1. Access to thought leadership and advertising effectiveness 

IPA agencies and their clients regularly dominate the annual IPA Effectiveness Awards, the world's most rigorous advertising effectiveness competition.

The IPA boasts an archive of case studies dating back nearly 40 years, a catalogue of publications proving the value of investment in advertising grows brands, rich learning resources from the last four years of Eff Works conferences at, and market leading qualifications in measuring and evaluating your advertising.


  1. Rigorous standards 

All IPA agencies are required to uphold the industry's legal, regulatory and ethical standards, including the IPA Rule Book and the EACA Code of Ethics.


  1. Access to the IPA Insight service on your behalf

The IPA Insight Centre provides members with research, analysis and statistics to help with competitive reviews and new business pitches and campaign planning (courtesy of a range of premium research tools). The team also commission and produce their own special reports which members can access online.


  1. Access to the IPA’s legal service on your behalf

Agency members have access to the IPA’s team legal experts so can ensure your work is legal and regulatory compliant for you as well as advise on supplier contracts.


  1. Access to the IPA’s Production advice service

Agency members have additional support in delivering broadcast productions to the highest standards with the IPA’s Production advice service. Their specialists offer advice on contracts, child talent, script clearance, insurances and more. In addition the IPA boasts qualifications in production best practices.

By shortlisting only IPA agencies you can be sure you’ll be hiring an agency with the highest professional standards.


What to do next after shortlisting?

The IPA champions Best Practice Guidelines, produced in association with ISBA, on a wide range of topics including Finding an Agency, Briefing an Agency, Evaluation, Agency Remuneration, Judging Creative Ideas, Communication Strategy and GDPR.


You can start your agency pitch process with the IPA/ISBA here.


What about Ardmore?

Ardmore has been a proud member of the IPA for 20 years. Through our commitment to the IPA's CPD standard, our accredited MIPAs, ISO quality management system, membership of the Worldwide Partners Inc, and our mission to deliver spectacular results we offer new and existing clients an effective, rigorous and professional service.

To find out more reach out to Paul at or 02890 425344.

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