Concentration Levels in the U.S. Advertising and Marketing Services Industry: Myth vs. Reality

43 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2009

See all articles by Alvin J. Silk

Alvin J. Silk

Harvard Business School

Charles King

Greylock McKinnon Associates; Pleiades Consulting Group, Inc.

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Date Written: August 1, 2009


We analyze changes in concentration levels in the U.S. Advertising and Marketing Services industry using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s quinquennial Economic Census and the Service Annual Survey. Heretofore largely ignored, these data allow us to redress some of the measurement problems surrounding estimates found in the existing literature Firm level concentration as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index varies across the sectors comprising the industry, but all are within the range generally considered as indicative of a competitive industry. At the holding company level, the four largest organizations account for about a quarter of the industry’s total revenue, a share lower by an order of magnitude than that frequently cited in the trade press.

Keywords: advertising agencies, advertising and marketing services, concentration levels

Suggested Citation

Silk, Alvin J. and King, Charles (Kip), Concentration Levels in the U.S. Advertising and Marketing Services Industry: Myth vs. Reality (August 1, 2009). US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP- 09-16, Available at SSRN: or

Alvin J. Silk (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

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Charles (Kip) King

Greylock McKinnon Associates ( email )

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617-871-6949 (Fax)

Pleiades Consulting Group, Inc. ( email )

P.O. Box 531
Lincoln, MA 01773
United States

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