10 great workplaces in advertising and marketing

May 19, 2015, 11:00 AM UTC
Courtesy of BrightRoll

One segment of the advertising world is currently seeing a perks bonanza: video and digital advertising and social media marketing. Some of the younger, smaller agencies are attracting talent by showering staff with perks that are more Silicon Valley than Madison Avenue, though the in-office happy hour lives on (thanks, Mad Men). While four of these agencies are based in New York, the demand for smart, sophisticated developers and marketing gurus is seemingly everywhere.

To compile this list, Fortune asked its partners at Great Rated!, the trusted, premiere workplace reviews site, to comb through its database of thousands of employee surveys. They discovered that advertising pros favor managers who show a high tolerance for mistakes and risk-taking, have a strong desire for ethics and competence, and want to work for companies that support workers’ professional development.

But what’s not surprising—no matter how exciting each of these workplaces may seem—the work is not all fun and games: a vast majority of those surveyed say they have a lot of responsibility and often are giving extra to get the job done well. Here’s what 10 agencies are doing to keep their employees engaged and happy.

1. Centro

Revenue: $229 million
Headquarters: Chicago
Employees: 514
Best Medium-Size Companies to Work For rank: 8
Great Rated! review

Free yoga classes, fresh fruit, and gym membership reimbursements are only the beginning. Employees at this tech advertising firm also are given 10 “Ferris Bueller” days per year as part of paid time off to use however they see fit. The company also encourages staffers to pursue personal dreams, like writing a book or learning to play a new musical instrument. Says one employee: “I have been in media for 18 years and have never been happier in my career. Support, direction, mission, and opportunity are well complimented by fun and amazing benefits. I love working at Centro and consider myself lucky to be here.”

2. AdRoll

Headquarters: San Francisco
Employees: 476
Best Medium-Size Companies to Work For rank: 21
Great Rated! review

The provider of digital ad retargeting solutions has offices in New York, Sydney, and Dublin. Employees, who are called “Rollers,” are invited to teach colleagues in continued learning programs. Quarterly curriculum includes programming for non-programmers, project management, and Zumba. Hard work is recognized at the weekly all hands meeting with a Golden Bagel Award. And each month, Rollers are randomly paired for lunch to encourage camaraderie. According to one employee, “the atmosphere makes it feel like you aren't even 'working.'"

3. Crowdtap

Headquarters: New York City
Employees: 88
Great Rated! review

The 5-year-old crowd-sourced marketing firm has taken employees on a company trip to SXSW, allows dogs in the office, and also offers unlimited time off without restrictions. Flexible scheduling lets employees work from home when needed; many who have children work remotely one day per week. Says one employee, “Beach days, bowling, and other fun parties are perhaps unique, but it's really the level of commitment to our careers that makes Crowdtap stand out — and why I hope to work here for many, many years to come.”

4. BusinessOnline

Revenue: $7.45 million
Headquarters: San Diego
Employees: 40
Great Rated! review

This small interactive ad agency has only a few dozen employees, who love the free snacks, beer keg and wine fridge (for happy hours), shuffleboard, and chair massages — right in the office. Staff can make the workday fun with occasional foosball games, Ping Pong matches, and scavenger hunts. Twice a year, the team with the best results shares a $12,000 bonus. According to one staffer, “It's just a very fun, collaborative, smart group of people that are given the autonomy to do their job, solve issues and make themselves, their teammates and the company successful.”

5. Conductor

Headquarters: New York City
Employees: 156
Great Rated! review

This 5-year-old marketing tech firm helps big companies increase their web traffic. Quarterly social events have included casino nights, BBQs and karaoke parties. Employees (or “Conductors”) who began working for the company within the first year are considered “co-founders.” New York staff can ride scooters around the office or play Xbox at work. There are even soccer, basketball, and Tough Mudder teams. Staff say they feel valued and are inspired to give their best at work. “Lots of social activities, family atmosphere, unparalleled passion for client satisfaction, lunch on Fridays, lots of management interaction, and (for many people) unlimited free beer,” says one Conductor.

6. Yodle

Revenue: $162 million
Headquarters: New York City
Employees: 1,233
Great Rated! review

This 10-year old marketing agency has five offices in Austin, New York, Scottsdale, Charlotte, N.C., and Buford, G.A. All employees are eligible to participate in a stock ownership program, with options and profit sharing awarded to top performers. An annual trip is also organized for high-level performers. Last year, more than 100 employees were taken to the Dominican Republic. Every developer is given a “productivity budget” that can be used to improve their workspace or personal skills. Says one employee: “In my experience, this is the most fair, fun and highest-paying job that I have ever had. The atmosphere is great, and the managers are 100-percent committed to bettering every single employee.”

7. Dixon Schwabl

Headquarters: Victor, N.Y.
Employees: 77
Best Small Companies to Work For rank: 7
Great Rated! review

The advertising and PR firm supports businesses located near Rochester, N.Y. and was founded by husband and wife, CEO Lauren Dixon and president Mike Schwabl. Senior management is accessible and has one-on-one lunches with staff. Similar to a traditional happy hour, an “Explorers Club” team organizes agency outings to support local businesses. Weekly drawings are held to distribute tickets to local events. All staff are eligible to participate in profit sharing, regardless of title. One says, “Employees are encouraged to present new business ideas and are provided with the support and resources to execute on these ideas. There is a strong focus here on helping employees to attain their personal and professional goals.”


Headquarters: New York City
Employees: 135
Great Rated! review

Each month, managers at this maker of content marketing software distribute a satisfaction survey to employees, who are asked to rate their happiness and share idea for improvement. After the responses are tallied, staff are encouraged to share ideas and brainstorm how the complaints can be resolved at a “Happiness Town Hall.” As part of its regular training programs, the company hosts onsite workshops. Hungry? Fill out a snack request form and you can get it ordered for you. The company vacation policy is simply “be reasonable.”

9. BrightRoll

Headquarters: San Francisco
Great Rated! review

Acquired by Yahoo last year for $640 million, this video ad platform now operates as a subsidiary of the tech giant, but its unique culture has been in place since it was founded in 2006. A work-hard play-hard philosophy is lauded by employees, who speak highly of the weekly catered meals, healthy snacks, and free beverages. A women’s networking group hosts an annual BrightWomen Week to celebrate women in technology. One employee comments, “I think BrightRoll puts a huge emphasis on culture, which makes it a place I love coming to every day. The people are incredible and as a salesperson it is wonderful to sell for a company that values its people and product and is full of employees who believe in what we do.”

10. 4imprint

Revenue: $295 million
Headquarters: $Oshkosh, Wisc.
Employees: 563
Best Medium-Size Companies to Work For rank: 10
Great Rated! review

A treat cart is known to roam the floors at this 38-year old agency, where employees live by the Golden Rule and love its stellar benefits programs, which include career coaching, job shadowing, wellness classes, and positive thinking seminars, in addition to an onsite library where associates can check out books. They can also submit for $4,400 in annual tuition reimbursement. An unusual, but much-loved perk is the hassle-free oil change service; pay to have your car picked up and then returned to the office.


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