Marketing vs Advertising: How Is It Different?

Learn why advertising is not the same as marketing, and what they have in common.

Marketing design
July 2, 2021

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Very often, people confuse the terms marketing and advertising. Whereas one is a much more holistic discipline, the other is merely a tool to promote a product or service to the target audience. Here’s how they differ and intertwine.

When I tell people I work in marketing, they immediately assume I work in an ad agency. To so many folks, marketing means advertising campaigns, flashy billboards and disruptive videos on social media platforms.

In reality, that is what advertising is, and it’s only one component of marketing.

Keep reading to clear up the confusion and discover how to incorporate advertising in your marketing campaign.

What is marketing?

When regarded in its broadest sense, marketing is a tightly regulated yet far-reaching process in which advertisers concentrate on the creation of messages. Marketers also do research into consumer behavior, and advertisers participate in design, multimedia production, and other creative activities in order to persuade customers to take action.

It is the process of market research, strategic thinking, product development and promotion and creation of a strategy for successful market placement. So, it is a complete process from start to finish: conceiving a marketing plan and then doing everything to present that product for the marketplace and reach its potential customers.

There are many different types of marketing, and each company creates a long-term and short-term marketing strategy that will be used in the planning, implementation and evaluation of all marketing activities. One of them, of course, is advertising, which we will cover below.

What is advertising?

Advertising, in comparison, is the process of placing any type of promotional asset that will help the product or service be noticed by target customers and ‘mold’ consumer behavior. It can be placed in the ad space that is currently composed of many different platforms.

Throughout the evolution of advertising, the ad space grew from simple print publications to in-stream videos, influencer marketing, podcast ads and many other different strategies. To build enthusiasm for a product, great advertising campaigns employ a variety of mediums. Advertisers may, for example, utilize Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms to market a product aimed to a younger demographic.

Advertising includes different types of products whose promotion helps businesses and is a separate industry in itself. Ad agencies, art directors and branding consultants often work with businesses to create amazing ads. Of course, the price and promotion are greater proportionally to the budget and size of a company.

A small business will have a smaller budget and advertise on social media, while corporations can work with iconic agencies and have ads at the Super Bowl halftime show.

Simply said, advertising disseminates information about items and services. However, precise targeting is required to ensure that advertisements are tailored to the demands and needs of certain audiences.

So, why is advertising a part of marketing?

When comparing marketing with advertising, it's crucial to remember that advertising is a subset of marketing. Marketing is the process of preparing a product for sale. Making your goods and services known to individuals in that market is what advertising is all about. To put it another way, advertising is a phase in the marketing process that makes use of the data and research gathered by marketing strategists.


Advertising is simply a great way to reach a large audience, get your message across and grow your brand, as well as sales and marketing.

But, rather than just creating a random advertisement, you base it on your overall marketing strategy, branding guidelines, plan and mission. So, it’s just one cog in the wheel that makes a brand successful.

How can I make a strategy for both?

The first and most important part of creating a marketing and advertising strategy is to know your audience, but also your brand and industry trends.

Here is a simplified roadmap:

  • Market research: No strategy can be done without understanding the market you are entering, as well as the trends and stakeholders that move it.
  • Target audience: It is extremely important to have an exact picture of who your target audience is, what are their preferences and what they consider to be good-looking, professional, relatable and trustworthy.
  • Competitors: Know your enemies. You need to know what are their strengths and shortcomings, what can you do better than them, what message do they use, how can you improve on their brand values and key propositions?
  • Trends: Research the trends in design and marketing. Media channels, average attention span, trends, etc, can also make or break your strategy.
  • What your target customers need: Good companies solve the problems and meet the needs of their customers. Instead of you needing them, you have to convince them that they need you and your product or service. This is an incredibly important part of modern marketing: inbound marketing starts from the product and service, and your brand needs to have that in mind.

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.

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