Marketing vs Advertising – What’s The Difference And Why Is It Important

by | 04 May 2019 | 0 comments

When it comes to the difference between marketing and advertising, most professional marketers reading this post will know the meaning of both these terms. You may even be shaking your head at a blog post that’s answering what the difference between advertising and marketing is.

However, marketing and advertising are both often misunderstood subjects. This too is something that most marketers reading this should know!

“Oh yeah, so you’re the person within the company responsible for shoving products down our throats, right?!”

The fact that marketing has gone a long way from the old-school sales, lying and exaggerated copy doesn’t seem to get noticed. That’s a compliment to the good marketers out there I guess…

That, combined with the broad and vague terms cause some confusion. That’s what this blog post is here to fix!


The difference between marketing and advertising

To understand the differences, we’re first going to look at the meaning of marketing vs advertising, as well as how they differ from one another.

What is advertising?

Advertising is simply a form of marketing. It’s a paid marketing channel which focusses on spreading the brand’s message through paid adverts and commercials.

This started with TV, radio and direct mail, but has now become more accessible to smaller companies through social media and search engines.

Those ads you see at the top of the search results, or those annoying selfie-videos that keep interrupting your YouTube sessions, that’s advertising in action.

It’s a large part of most marketing campaigns and can be a great way of getting people to notice your business quickly.

What is marketing?

Marketing is a broader subject, and it’s pretty much everything that is done to sell a product. This includes things like marketing research and managing the company’s social media accounts, all the way to website analytics and, yes, advertising!

It’s a pretty vague term that can include anything from sales and advertising to market research.

On top of this, blurred lines between the topics that make up marketing can make things all the more confusing.

For this post though, the definition given above will suffice nicely!

Advertising vs. marketing

As you can probably tell by now, this is a pretty strange matchup to be dealing with. Yet there are still a lot of people interested in what the difference is!

Advertising is a part of marketing. It’s a marketing channel which is focussed on paid media. Marketing itself is a lot broader than just advertising.

There are three types of media recognized in marketing. These three are paid media, owned media and earned media.

These are the ways that a company or organization can spread their message to the general public and their target audience.

Advertising is a large part of paid media and is often the one that’s thought about when referring to paid media in marketing.

Marketing also includes earned and owned media, as well as the “higher-level” things like marketing strategy, brand strategy, market research, and customer research.


Graphic of Facebook seperated by a division from a webpage on the other side to symbolize advertising vs marketing

Example of advertising and marketing in action

To get complete clarity on this subject, there’s nothing better than an example of how advertising fits into a marketing campaign.

Let’s say you own a business selling soft drinks. You have a store in the city you live but also sell them online throughout the US.

This is great and you’ve got a warehouse filled with drink, but… No one knows you exist.

So, you draw up a multi-channel marketing strategy and start implementing it.

In the strategy, you use all three forms of media to make it as effective as possible.

  • You create a google my business page and focus on a few specific keywords for your website to rank in the search engines (Owned media)
  • Running ads on both Facebook and Bing seemed promising, so you go ahead and run ads locally that stimulate store visits, as well as nationwide ads that point people to your online store. (Paid media in the form of advertising)
  • After each purchase, you follow up twice in 2 months asking for a review. (earned media)

As you can see, advertising is a large part of your overall marketing campaign in this example. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case.

It’s often recommended that you spread your advertising campaign over multiple channels as well as using all forms of media.


As you can see, advertising is an important part of marketing, but they are clearly not the same. Hopefully, after reading this article you know the difference between marketing and advertising, as well as know clearly what each of the terms means!

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