Marketing vs Advertising | What’s The Difference?

March 9, 2023

“Marketing is more than advertising…”

Seth Godin

Oftentimes when discussing digital marketing, people will use multiple marketing terms assuming they all mean the same thing. When you say, “I work in marketing,” people assume you just mean, “I create ads, aka I do advertising,” and call it a day. But as a true marketer, I can tell you marketing is not advertising, it is SO much more. Marketing covers a variety of categories, one of which is advertising. 

According to a survey conducted by the Content Marketing Institute in 2021, 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing to reach customers, while only 49% of B2B marketers use paid advertising. This statistic highlights the growing importance of integrated marketing in reaching and engaging with customers.

What Are The Differences Between Marketing vs Advertising?

Marketing and advertising are two concepts that are used interchangeably but have different meanings. Marketing is the process of creating, promoting, and delivering a product or service to a target market. It starts with market research to understand the needs and wants of a target audience. Then, it moves into developing a strategy to satisfy those needs, which results in finding highly qualified leads for the sales team. Marketing includes all aspects of creating a product or service, including pricing, designing, distribution, and promotion. It also includes understanding the data as it comes in to continue to improve conversions. The goal of marketing is to create a relationship between the consumer and the product or service that meets and satisfies their needs.

Advertising is a section of marketing that specifically refers to the promotion of a product or service through paid channels. Advertising uses various media variations, such as television, radio, print, or digital media, to deliver a direct message about the product or service to the target audience. The purpose of advertising is to create awareness and interest in the product or service, convince potential customers to take action, and start to establish brand loyalty. While marketing is the umbrella for all aspects of bringing a product or service to market, advertising is just one section of the larger marketing strategy.

Importance of Marketing As A Whole, Not Just Advertising 

Marketing plays a huge role in the success of any business, as it captures a broad range of activities beyond ads. It involves understanding the needs of the business you are marketing for, as well as the needs of its customers. It also focuses on promoting products/services to your best-targeted audience. Marketing accomplishes this in a variety of ways, but to find those qualified leads, we gather information about the target market, the competitors that exist within that space, where your customers might “live” online, and work directly with sales teams to ensure that the data coming in is aligned and working towards our goals. 

Effective digital marketing goes beyond that, as it involves a comprehensive approach to the entire customer experience from start to finish. Understanding the entirety of not just your product, but the space you want to market in is what makes marketing effective. Most agencies will quickly identify your “best market”, create a basic ad that doesn’t give any insight into what you are selling, and tell you that a high number of clicks = interested leads. This couldn’t be farther from the reality of a good, strong marketing strategy (and execution). Here at OM, we understand the importance of marketing as a whole, which leads our clients to better positions in their markets, achieving and exceeding their goals, increasing their brand awareness within the space, and showing them that marketing is not just advertising. Without marketing, eventually, you won’t have any advertising to run.

Learn Where You Want To Be: Marketing or Advertising

The worlds of marketing and advertising offer different paths and experiences, and it’s important to understand which world aligns with your personal and professional values. Advertising can be an exciting and fast-paced industry, with opportunities to work on high-profile campaigns and create engaging content. This also means, depending on what your advertising role is, that you may not be building the same relationships with different brands on the same level as a marketing role would. Oftentimes, advertising agencies have a wide variety of clients who need different solutions. If you work for a brand specifically, you may be limited in the creative elements available to you. 

Conversely, marketing focuses on creating value for the customer and building long-term relationships with them. This side of marketing requires a deep understanding of consumer needs and a commitment to marketing these products and services that truly add value to people’s lives. While marketing may not always have the same level of intensity and excitement as advertising, it offers a more tactical and data-driven career path for those who want to dig deeper into the 5 Ws of a company. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide which world they want to live in and to find a career path that aligns with their professional and personal goals.

In conclusion, we have learned that although marketing and advertising are used interchangeably, they are two separate concepts with different goals. Marketing involves creating, researching, and delivering a product or service to a target market, while advertising is a section of marketing that specifically refers to the promotion of a product or service through paid channels. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that each area of marketing is leading to the same goal: creating demand and conversions for a product or service.


Savannah Forest

Marketing Specialist
OM Performance Marketers

Savannah, a Growth Marketing Manager, helps oversee various accounts while providing inventive and structured insights. She has a passion for thinking outside the box and getting to the root of a client’s problem. With a degree in integrated business and digital media, she has combined her interests and skill sets to help her clients maximize their full potential.

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