LGC Blog

Is it advertising or marketing?

Both are correct and different at the same time.

Clearly stated, advertising is a component of marketing. Although the lines are often blurred and the terms get interchanged very often, understanding the dynamics at play can be very helpful.

If you think of marketing as the whole pie, advertising is a slice of that very same pie.

Integrated marketing plans and campaigns incorporate all aspects of communication that put a product, service or message in front of a particular audience. Some of the pieces of the pie are: research to identify the audience; the selection of appropriate channels and platforms needed to reach that audience, crafting the correct message for each channel, development of design, layout, copy, calls to action, schedule the launch of each component. All of these components drive how the advertising process will be employed.

As an important part of integrated marketing, the advertising piece places the product, service or message in front of the audience via the media determined to be appropriate for the target audience Broadcast, radio, digital, print ads, direct mail, direct response advertising are the tools employed. Advertising can also be integral in the social media efforts because so many of the avenues available for advertising are found on line.

There are nuances but a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Ultimately it is the process of communicating with an audience that creates the distinctions.

Here is a visual that explains the interdependency of marketing and advertising

Marketing cannot exist without advertising, but advertising can stand-alone. Without advertising a marketing campaign is not complete. Advertising aligns the wants and needs of the audience across the mix of media with top-notch creative multimedia completing the circle. Making sure that each slice of the marketing pie is aligned and working in conjunction with each other is the prescription for success. As you can see advertising is an essential part.

Caution should be taken when having the marketing vs. advertising conversation to make sure you are clear as to what exactly you mean. Say advertising and many think “Ad Men” the cable TV show that was popular a while back. It depicted the slick, creative types whose job it was to make noise for the client by getting in front of the audience. With outstanding imagery and catchy phrases the product or service is known, remembered and bought. That was advertising in days gone by. Although there may be nostalgia for the way advertisers worked it bears little resemblance to advertising today. Research and data drive all campaigns. The days of placing a thirty or sixty second commercial on a network broadcast program that everyone just ‘knew’ their prospects liked to watch are over. There is an entire industry that does nothing but analyze data about viewership and effectiveness of advertising for major national and global advertisers.

Whether the name on the lobby directory says marketing company or ad agency matters not. It is how campaigns are approached that reveals the true nature within. You can hire an advertising company or you can hire a marketing agency. In today’s world, they may be one in the same thing.

Think of it this way. A marketing agency may hire an advertising agency to execute a part of a more broad and comprehensive plan. The advertising folks will have the media planning and buying expertise, the video creation and production resources and the ability to married message and image. Over the years marketing agencies have sought to control advertising more tightly and have been incorporating those skills internally. In other words, increasingly marketing establishments will have an advertising department or division.

Share this Article:

Greg Demetriou

Greg Demetriou

The author, Greg Demetriou is the CEO of Lorraine Gregory Communications, the founder of GregsCornerOffice.com and the host of the Ask A CEO video and podcast show. He can be reached at [email protected]. To learn more about Greg, read Greg's full bio page.