Marketing vs Advertising: What’s the Difference?

Are marketing and advertising really the same thing? Or not?

The terms marketing and advertising are used interchangeably. But both of these are entirely two different concerts that must not be confused with each other. They are related and have quite the similarities. But the differences are just too stark to ignore. Knowing how they differ is handy when you’re a professional in the industry and have to talk about them. 

So, what do these two terms really mean? How do they differ? This article will dive into the most basic differences between marketing and advertising. Let’s get right into it!

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of creating, delivering and communicating products that offer value to customers. It’s a very hands-on and engaging process that involves predicting and meeting consumer needs. 

Marketers spend a lot of time researching and studying consumers. To create offerings that hold value, they must first understand the very people they’re targeting. Only when they know what customers want and value can they create a product that customers will want to buy. Since consumer trends constantly shift, marketing research is a long and iterative process. 

The most fundamental part of marketing is ‘Marketing Mix,’ or the 4 Ps. Product is the specific offering, item or service that will satisfy your customer’s needs. Price is how much your customers will or are willing to pay for your products and services. Place is where your customers will buy your products in-store or online. Promotion is the set of activities where you communicate the benefits and value of your product to your audience. 

Types of Marketing

Marketing is a vast concept. But getting your product to customers is the very essence of it. There are many ways marketers do this. Here are a few types of marketing: 

Traditional Marketing: This is the most basic type of marketing, and we’re all very familiar with it. All the billboards, flyers and other forms of media we see everywhere are traditional marketing techniques. Visibility is critical here as the primary purpose is to draw attention to your brand and products. 

Digital Marketing: We’re all living in a digital world. And so marketing efforts have also migrated. Digital marketing entails applying the same techniques but on electronic devices. Smartphones are the main target channel here. Social media, SEO and email marketing are some of the methods employed in digital marketing. 

Social Media Marketing: Social media is the most popular marketing channel right now. We have multiple social media platforms today, and people spend a lot of time on these. This form of marketing includes posting your content on social media platforms to attract these users. SMM has two subsets; paid and organic. Every platform has an algorithm that shares content according to certain factors. Brands that go with these use organic marketing. You can also pay to sidestep the algorithm and promote your content much faster and to a larger audience. 

Influencer Marketing: The latest trend in digital marketing is using influencers. This type has companies and brands working with influential people to promote their products. At first, these were just athletes, musicians and actors. But now, the scope of influencers has grown to people with a significant following on social media. 

What Is Advertising?

Advertising is paying to place your marketing content (advertisements) in a certain place. Brands pay to keep their ads in these places for a given amount of time. These advertisements are mostly one-way communication. Your ads educate the audience, relay your marketing message, and publicize your products. 

Advertising aims to introduce your products to the world and create demand for them. When a new product is made and is fresh out of the R&D oven, marketers predict sales numbers for it. Advertisements help realize these sales numbers by creating demand for the product amongst the general public. 

By advertising your content at a particular place, you’re drawing attention to your products. This serves your marketing goals as well. So, essentially, advertising is just a subset of marketing. 

Types of Advertising

Just like marketing, advertising too is divided into several different categories. Some of them are: 

Traditional Advertising: This refers to ads you see in conventional forms of media, such as newspapers, magazines, flyers and radio. It’s one of the most effective forms of advertising since they’re quite visible and due to the popularity of these old channels. 

Online Advertising: We’ve all seen pop-up ads online. The placement of digital ads all over the internet is called online advertising. Pop-ups, search ads, and website banners are some of the most common examples of online advertisements. 

Retail Advertising: When you go to any store, you’ll see banners, flyers or featured displays throughout. These are retail advertisements that target foot traffic inside and outside a retail outlet. Most retail ads are for a specific product or announce sales and discounts. Retail ads are effective because customers have already walked in the door, and they only need to nudge them in the right direction. 

Mobile Advertising: This is a very specific advertisement type targeting only mobile users. These days, almost everybody has a mobile device. So it only makes sense for advertisers to target this channel. Mobile advertising includes sending ads to users through mobile apps, SMS or automated dialers. 

Marketing vs Advertising: Key Differences 

Now that we’ve established what marketing and advertising are and how they both apply in our world let’s get into how the two differ. 


Since marketing is a more holistic concept, its purpose and goals are also broader. The goal of marketing is to:

  • Develop products
  • Generate leads
  • Customer Acquisition
  • Retain old customers
  • Improve customer journey
  • Brand reputation management

On the other hand, the goal of advertising is to: 

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Increase traffic (foot and online)
  • Improve engagement
  • Convince consumers to purchase
  • Create excitement
  • Boost sales


Since the purpose of both advertising and marketing is different, their techniques vary a lot too. Content marketing uses social media posts, blog articles, and website content to educate and attract viewers. Email marketing entails sending marketing content to leads and customers through emails. SEO entails optimizing your website to rank higher on SERPs. The higher you rank, the more people will see your website and the more traffic you will get. Affiliate marketing includes partnering with other people to market to a larger audience. 

On the advertising side, we have traditional techniques such as TV ads, flyers and banners. We have mobile ads that are placed inside applications or are sent directly through an SMS. Paid ads through social media and guest posting are called digital advertising. Promotional and discount offers placed inside stores are called retail advertising. Lastly, we have Pay Per Click ads. These are paid ads that you’ll see all over the internet. Advertisers pay for every click they get on their ads. 


We already know that marketing is an umbrella concept and covers advertising. So an essential difference between the two also lies in their results. 

Marketing is a very long process. When a business invests in marketing, they’re thinking of the long term. Marketing not only includes promoting products but also entails managing the brand, its reputation and public image. As such, marketing is considered a life-long process. When you measure marketing results, you have to consider the long-term value of your brand. And not just the KPIs of a specific campaign. 

On the other hand, advertising is quite short-term. Most advertising campaigns run for four to six weeks. Compared to marketing, this is a very short time. So when you evaluate advertisement campaigns, you have to consider their own period. 

Marketing vs Advertising?

We’ve highlighted a lot of differences between marketing and advertising for you. You’re probably wondering which is more important for you. And where to invest your time and money? Well, the answer is simple; both. Marketing and advertising go hand-in-hand. You can’t start advertising without a well-thought marketing plan. And you can’t market your brand or products without advertisements. Invest in making a great marketing strategy and plan your advertising campaign by aligning both. 

Featured Image: media-exp1

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