How Do Digital Agencies Make Money?


If you're looking to start a digital agency running a recent post, it can be challenging to determine how to price your services. There are several methods to consider, including results-based pricing, hourly rates, and retainers. Depending on the scope of your project, one or more of these methods might be the best option.

Commission-based pricing

Many digital agencies use a commission-based pricing model. In this model, the client sets the budget for a campaign and the agency takes a percentage of that budget as commission. This model was popular before the digital revolution, but the evolution of media consumption and the proliferation of multiple platforms has made commission-based pricing less prevalent.

This model is particularly useful for agencies that take a case-by-case approach to their work. The main benefit of this pricing model is that there is no need to calculate client fees each time. However, the drawback of this pricing model is that it can be problematic if an agency takes longer than anticipated. In this case, it is important that the agency accurately reflects the actual work it is doing for clients.

In addition to ad spend, a digital agency may also spend a lot on team management software, projectors, cameras, and more. Additionally, these agencies have staffing costs, which include salaries, benefits, and training expenses. Plus, these agencies may also have to spend money on advertising, travel, and accommodations. So, it may be better for a client to pay an hourly rate for the services they need.

Hourly rates

Most agencies follow an hourly rate model, which allows them to charge clients for every hour spent on a given project. This approach can help an agency attract clients with fixed budgets. It also helps an agency track profitability, team hours, and individual project schedules. This model is also a good choice for agencies with limited resources and long-term projects.

The hourly rate model allows agencies to offer lower prices based on the cost of living in a given area. The reason for this is that all work is done online and on the same platforms, so a lower cost of living can be justified for certain agencies. Hourly rates also allow agencies to charge a blended rate that compensates all specialists within the agency. This blend rate model gives clients a more consistent average for the agency's pool of resources.

Hourly rates are a common way to pay for marketing and graphic design services. The agency bills the client an hourly rate and keeps track of how long it takes to complete the project. The rate also incorporates a margin for profit. For example, a freelance web designer may charge up to $22 per hour, whereas an ad agency's creative strategist might charge $300 per hour.

Results-based pricing

When it comes to pricing, results-based pricing is the way to go. It's a win-win proposition for both the vendor and the client. While some of the disadvantages of performance-based pricing are related to its short-term nature, others are beneficial for business.

It is important to realize that there are limitations to this pricing model, including its complexity. For instance, it doesn't work well with time-of-day or stratified service pricing. This pricing model is best suited to agencies that charge their clients based on results, not on how much their agency is willing to spend on the project.

In a world where pricing is constantly in flux and competitors are bringing prices down, digital marketing agencies have to find ways to make money. They must be able to differentiate themselves from the competition by setting prices that cover overheads and provide enough revenue to pay the bills. A good pricing model should include both costs and the value the customer receives from the services that they receive.


Many agencies will use retainers as a way to allocate a fixed number of hours per month to a client. Large budget clients may even receive a team dedicated to their account. The agency will then discount the hours that the client uses on their retainer, but won't offer a discount for overage.

Creating realistic expectations for a client is an important part of a retainer agreement. This way, the client will feel that they are receiving adequate value for their money. It also helps to specify the specifics of the service that the client is receiving, as this will help prevent scope creep. A retainer agreement can be a great tool for a digital agency to test new processes and systems, as well as work with multiple clients at once.

Another benefit of retainers is that they make it easier for an agency to predict how much time it will take to execute a certain project. It is possible that an e-commerce company will initially need only brand identity work, but then need ongoing social media, SEO, and digital advertising management.

A retainer can make this process easier, because it allows both parties to shift their focus without dragging out contract negotiations. Moreover, retainers can also serve as a flexible tool for an agency to expand its services to meet their clients' needs.