Marketing vs. Advertising: Are They Different?

Christy Walters


June 4, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

person working on laptop with phone in hand contemplating marketing vs. advertising

Marketing and advertising often go hand-in-hand, so much that people use the terms interchangeably. Both areas describe content and strategies that allow you to promote your company, products, and services to an audience, but there are key differences to know. Understanding the areas where marketing vs. advertising varies can help you develop an effective strategy and meet your goals. In this article, we cover:

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of sharing your brand with a target audience to generate leads and increase revenue. There are a variety of marketing subcategories in which you can engage to communicate your brand’s message to clients. Some include:

  • B2B: Stands for business to business, and targets other companies, agencies, or business clients as the primary audience
  • Inbound: Methods that share valuable content or information with a target audience to attract them to your brand naturally or organically
  • Outbound: Methods that promote your products, services, or brands directly to the clients where they’re most likely to see them, such as through email or with paid social media ads
  • Content: Requires companies to create written, visual, or hybrid pieces like eBooks or explainer videos to share information or provide value to the target audience outside of directly selling products and services
  • Digital: Use the internet or online channels to share your brand messages
  • Social media: Uses social media channels to promote your brand to a target audience
  • Affiliate: A company pays external websites or influencers a commission to generate referrals to their brand
  • Email: Sends leads and previous clients the marketing messages to their email address
  • Mobile: Sends marketing messages directly to clients’ cell phones, such as through text messages or push notifications
  • Cause: Companies choose a charity or worthy cause to support through fundraising, sales, or events that relate to the primary organization’s business model or core values
  • Event: Promotes an in-person or virtual gathering, such as a conference or webinar

No matter what type of marketing you choose, all of them rely on choosing the right strategy for the intended audience. Many brands, both small and large, choose multi-modal marketing strategies. This means that they choose a variety of marketing types to target their audience and get exposure through multiple channels. Each subcategory or channel has a marketing plan of its own, then combines with the others to form the overall marketing strategy. To be effective, each element needs to work both independently and interdependently.

Related: A Complete Guide to Digital Marketing

What Is Advertising?

person working on laptop with phone in hand contemplating marketing vs. advertising

Image via Unsplash by @austindistel

Advertising is a promotional tactic that companies use to sell products or services. It’s a component of marketing that typically includes all paid promotional activities within each subcategory. Where marketing focuses on creating promotional messages, advertising determines how and where to share them. Also, like marketing, there are multiple subcategories of advertising, including:

  • Paid search: Relies on bidding on keywords so advertisements appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) when users look for them within the search engine
  • Social media: Lets companies pay for advertising space or sponsored content on social media platforms to appear in the feeds of their target audience
  • Native: Includes paid placement for videos and articles on websites that use marketing to share similar content organically
  • Display: Uses paid static and dynamic banner ads to sell products and services on other websites
  • Print: Includes advertising offline in print publications like magazines, newspapers, directories, posters, and through direct mail sent to a business headquarters or a person’s home
  • Broadcast: Includes video and audio advertisements aired during broadcast news, television, and programs, such as on television or radio, and even podcasts
  • Over-the-top: A subsegment of broadcast advertising, it focuses on ad placement within streaming service content
  • Outdoor: Also known as out-of-home (OOH) advertising, includes placement of advertisements anywhere people may see them while walking or driving in the world, like billboard ads

Advertising may include multiple types of campaigns to market one message, product, or service. It gives brands the option to directly reach their target market where they spend time, based on factors like age, geographic location, and spending habits. These campaign choices can vary depending on that target audience.

Marketing vs. Advertising Similarities

Here are a few similarities to know between marketing vs. advertising:


Both marketing and advertising have similar goals. They work to increase client and customer awareness of a brand, product, or service. The methods and strategies the two disciplines use to reach those goals differ.


In marketing vs. advertising, both disciplines require planning to achieve their goals. Marketing requires extensive research about the audience to develop the right messages to spark clients’ and customers’ interest in the brand. Advertising uses the same process to learn where those people spend their time and get their information to find the best places to share ads to put the information in front of their faces.

If you’re looking for better sources of information for your marketing and advertising research and planning, request your content analysis report from CopyPress. This report can show you how your current content marketing stacks up against your top three competitors. It also gives suggestions of places to advertise or syndicate your pieces to get more reach and engagement. Then start a call with CopyPress to learn how a partnership with us helps you get the best content and syndication services from one source.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo


Both marketing and advertising rely on targeted and cultivated communication to persuade clients that their products or services are the right choices to solve a problem. Marketing focuses on creating new content through better understanding the customer and helping them with their problems. Advertising usually repeats the same content, attempting to reach a wider range of customers, although niche advertising can work just as well as you’re more honed in on a target audience.


How similar or different marketing vs. advertising teams are may depend on the size of a company. Small businesses or startups may not have separate marketing and advertising teams to take care of all these responsibilities. Even in larger companies with separate teams, there is often overlap with the tasks and goals of each. That leads to project collaboration and close ties between both groups. Advertising and marketing teams may include positions like:

Marketing vs. Advertising Differences

Consider these differences in marketing vs. advertising:


Marketing is concerned with crafting messages that convince the target audience they want or need your products and services. It has a sharper focus on brand awareness and persuasion and takes time to convince the audience that yours is the best solution to their problems. Advertising cares about taking those messages and figuring out where to put them to increase attention and sales.

For example, CopyPress may come up with marketing messages to promote our proprietary content management system (CMS) that we maintain in-house. We discuss its features, like client suggestions that make the CMS more user-friendly and tailored to campaigns. If we discuss this in our content pieces, that’s marketing. If we decide to promote this tool through paid search or social media ads, it becomes advertising, a subsegment of our marketing efforts.

Time and Length of Campaigns

Marketing is usually more time-consuming than advertising alone. That’s because you may develop multiple marketing messages for one product for all the different channels you plan to target. Advertising is simply taking those messages and adapting them for the best practices of the target channel. Marketing may also take longer to see results from each campaign because it relies on both paid and organic promotion methods. Advertising may see returns more quickly, depending on the channels and spending on the campaigns.


Companies often have more control over their advertising efforts compared to marketing. This is because you get what you pay for. Advertising channels often let you target very specific market segments so you know exactly how, when, and where you get the placement. With marketing, especially organic methods, you can’t always guarantee how humans behave or if you understand their process or intent. With computer generation and automated placement that comes with advertising, you have more certainty that what you plan to do based on research actually happens.

For example, at CopyPress, we publish blog posts weekly. Though we conduct keyword research and optimize each post for search engine and user queries, all that work we put in isn’t a guarantee. There are many factors that play into whether your organic marketing gains traction. But if we boosted our blog with banner ads around the internet, we could choose where those ads appear, how long, how often, the time of day. With social media ads, we could target specific audience demographics and feeds to know exactly who’s going to see our content.


As mentioned, the strategies marketing vs. advertising professionals use to meet their goals differ. Marketing strategies focus on the five Ps, which are branding elements that guide marketers to frame their companies to stand out against competitors. They include:

  • Product: Deciding how to best persuade the target audience that they want or need specific products or services you offer
  • Price: Sharing how the price point is justified and worthy of the products or services you offer
  • Promotion: Focuses on answering questions like “what is the best channel for reaching customers,” or “how does human behavior affect buying decisions”
  • Place: Deciding if sharing messages about how or where a product or service originates appeals to the target audience’s needs or values
  • People: Concerned with the human side of promotion and sales, such as client behavior

In contrast, advertising strategies often focus only on putting a marketing message in the right place at the right time. The marketing team handles content itself and how the messaging appeals to the target audience. Advertising takes that created package and puts it in enticing locations and at times when people are most likely to see it.


Advertising is often more expensive than marketing alone. This is because advertising focuses almost exclusively on paid methods of sharing information about brands, products, and services. Advertising is part of marketing, and it’s likely the largest part of a marketing department’s budget, no matter whether the company does the work in-house or outsources it to an advertising agency.

Outcomes and Success

Marketing doesn’t have one singular measure of success because there are many subgoals that can fall within brand awareness. A successful marketing campaign may look like getting more web traffic, increasing your list of qualified leads, or getting more subscribers to an email newsletter. Because advertising is more costly, teams often measure its success based on revenue generated, conversions, and return on investment (ROI) of the campaign.

Why Does It Matter if Marketing and Advertising Are Different?

Knowing the differences between marketing vs. advertising can help you narrow in on your goals when creating a marketing plan. If you’re looking to develop better messaging you may spend more time and budget on the marketing tasks. If your research shows that your messages are good but nobody is finding your content, you can put more resources into strictly advertising concepts.

It also helps to learn where these areas intersect so that you can use your budget and resources wisely. For example, marketers working on a social media campaign may work with advertising professionals to determine what posts to create and which ones to boost with paid ads. Situations like this show that even though marketing and advertising are different, they work best and can bring you the most results when you use them together.

Understanding how these two disciplines complement and contrast with each other gives you a better understanding of how to put a marketing plan into practice. Working with a content agency can take even more of the guesswork out of the process. Contact CopyPress today to discover how our content writing efforts benefit your business to get the result for which you strive.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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