In the beginning of my marketing career, I remember being confused that I was tasked with writing ads or creating ad materials.
Since I fell into this industry accidentally (as one does), I didn't study marketing in school. I wasn't aware that advertising and marketing work together and aren't mutually exclusive.
Now, as a marketing professional, you understand that. But that doesn't mean that you've never been unsure about how these two industries interact.
In fact, marketing and advertising have a lot in common. They even have the same goal: increase awareness of your company and products, and then make a sale.
While they share the same goal and have a lot in common, there are differences between marketing and advertising that can help you organize your strategy and maximize your acquisition efforts.
Below, let's explore the similarities and differences between marketing and advertising.
Marketing vs. Advertising
Marketing is a way to identify what your customers need, define your product, choose the best place to sell it, decide the best price, and promote it so people are aware of your company and its products/services. On the other hand, advertising is the process of using paid media to tell an audience about a product, what it does, and how it can help them. Advertising is ultimately just a component of marketing.
Overall, marketing and advertising share the same goal. But marketing has a bigger scope than advertising. Marketing creates the tone, personality, and voice of a brand or company as a way to attract its target audience. This can be done through paid, owned, or earned media channels.
Advertising, on the other hand, has a much more narrow goal, which is to get the word out about a specific product or service.
To visualize the differences, marketing is the umbrella term for brand positioning and awareness, while advertising is just one of the tactics that's used to get that done.
With advertising, you can use social media, search engines, TV or print, podcasts, radio spots, billboards, and more. Depending on your audience, you'll probably use a mixture of the best channels that will bring success.
As you can see, advertising is a step of marketing. Marketing prepares products for the marketplace, works on overall brand messaging and positioning, while advertising then gets the word out about specific products or services.
Most successful marketing strategies use advertising at different levels of a campaign, in various types of media.
While marketing can be paid, owned, or earned media, advertising is the component of marketing that focuses solely on the paid media aspect.
Marketing will convince potential customers that you're the brand they want to use, that this product will help them, and advertising focuses on communicating a product exists and is the best way to achieve a goal.
You can think of marketing as the strategic decision making process that helps companies understand how a product or service will align with the target audience. This helps companies figure out how they want to sell the product and position it in the market. And then advertising makes a product or service known to the target audience through paid means.
These two concepts aren't at odds with each other. In fact, advertising is almost always meant to benefit a marketing plan and communicate the marketing message.
Additionally, the way you calculate success for these two industries is different as well.
With advertising, you might focus on return on ad spend, and actual sales. Marketing success can be measured differently. Brand awareness and impressions are just some of the ways that companies measure success of a marketing campaign (in addition to return on investment).
Now, let's get into the nitty gritty details about different types of advertising and marketing and how they're similar or different.
Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing
Native advertising is a way to make paid ads appear more organically in a person's day-to-day. Ads, in general, are interrupters. They interrupt your day and say "Hey, look at me." However, people have ad blindness, and might not even notice an ad, especially in the digital space.
That's why native advertising became popular. With native advertising, you can purchase ad space online and work in collaboration with a media network to make an ad not interrupt, but work in tandem with other organic materials.
For instance, this might look like a promotion or collaboration, which is definitely paid, but appears more native in someone's feed. It could be a paid post on Instagram, or a paid blog article.
Content marketing, on the other hand, isn't paid, and is usually the process of creating your own media materials and publishing them yourself. For instance, a company blog is content marketing. Your email newsletter is content marketing. But, a paid collaboration for a blog on someone else's site is native advertising.
The main difference between these two is that one is paid and one is not. And that content marketing is usually used by your own company, while native advertising will take place on another site.
Now that we understand more about that niche, let's dive into another area of marketing and advertising that might be confusing.
Mobile Marketing vs. Mobile Advertising
Mobile marketing is the process of creating marketing materials that are meant to be used in the mobile space. That could be an app. It could be location-based services, text marketing, or messenger marketing. It could be making sure your marketing assets are mobile responsive and are designed for the mobile experience.
On the other hand, mobile advertising, again, is the process of paying for ad space that will specifically show up in the mobile space. That could be an ad that comes up in an app or an ad that shows up when people are searching on their phone online.
The difference between these two concepts is similar to the overall difference between marketing and advertising.
Mobile marketing is the process of creating strategies that will reach audiences and increase brand awareness in the mobile space. Mobile advertising is a tactic to get that done.
This framework can be applied to any area of marketing and advertising, whether that's content marketing, mobile marketing, or social media marketing.
Ultimately, you'll need both marketing and advertising to have an effective strategy. If advertising is all you're doing, then you're missing out on a lot of other marketing tactics you can use to increase brand awareness, connect with your audience, and drive sales.