Difference between Marketing and Advertising

The world economy has experienced global changes during the last decades. Today it’s not enough to produce goods at minimum costs and put them on the market. To sell already manufactured goods is the main goal and the most challenging task for modern companies, within a tough market economy.

Thousands of articles and books have been written on this topic; competent experts keep on discussing the ways of achieving this with maximum effectiveness, and among other popular terms the audience finds “marketing” and “advertising”. Sometimes they confuse people as it is not fully clear at which point they mean the same and at which point they are really different.

Are they equal or just related? Which of them is a broader term? Does marketing include advertising or vice versa? Or maybe they don’t have a logical connection like that?

You will find the answer to these questions, as well as many others on this topic, in this article.


Marketing vs Advertising
Marketing mix

According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

To make this definition more understandable let’s think of marketing as a set of measures aimed at promotion of goods, services, people or ideas.

Marketing as a process includes 3 simple steps:

  1. Systematic planning
  2. Execution
  3. Control

These steps are applicable to a mix of business activities aimed at and providing a mutually beneficial exchange between buyers and sellers. Marketing is the general picture of how companies or individuals promote, distribute and price their goods and services. To put it simply, marketing in the economy is everything that follows manufacturing along the path that products travel to reach the end customer.

Long ago in the 1960s Professor McCarthy proposed a “marketing mix” concept. It implied four basic elements of marketing called the “4 P’s”:

  1. Product – what you are going to sell (goods, services and ideas).
  2. Price – estimating the right price offer that helps to attract more customers; everything that deals with the economic aspect of marketing.
  3. Place – this element includes all details of getting the product or service to the customer, such as distribution channels, offices, warehouses and logistics.
  4. Promotion – the process of increasing the awareness of the product, reaching the target market and attracting the consumer, convincing them to make a purchase and remain loyal to the brand.

30 years later, in the 1990s, the “4 P’s” marketing concept was updated by the more customer-driven concept of “4 C’s”: that includes consumer, cost, communication and convenience (Lauterborn) or commodity, cost, communication, channel (Shimizu), as convenience and communication turned out to be two of the factors that play a great role in consumer behavior. These two concepts were united in a “7 C’s” concept used nowadays in addition to classical 4 P’s.

All the above information is necessary to understand marketing and the aspects it encompasses.

1919 newspaper ad for Pepsi-Cola
1919 newspaper ad for Pepsi-Cola

Advertising is commercial or non-commercial public and impersonal announcements of a convincing message by an identified organization. Advertising helps to communicate the existence of goods and services and is a non-personal promotion of products and ideas both to already existing and potential customers. Ads may appear in graphic, audio and video forms and be obvious or hidden.

Commercial advertising is a powerful instrument of branding – associations connected with the product image based on its qualities and characteristics.

Non-commercial advertising includes promotion of political parties, interest groups, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies. Non-commercial advertising can promote patterns of social behavior or role models.

In general advertising is a part of a marketing process. In is included in the P that stands for promotion and is applied thorough research of target audience, effective media channels, calculation of effective message appearance frequency and so on.

Ads reach their target audience using such media channels as TV, radio, Internet, billboards and street facilities. Advertising also can be in-store, mobile, street or customer-generated.

Large companies have their own advertising department working on these issues, while medium-sized companies use advertising agency services.

Advertising is one of the largest marketing expenses. According to recent statistics, in 2015 almost 600 billion dollars were spent by companies all over the world on advertising.

Marketing vs Advertising

What’s the difference between marketing and advertising? One of the best ways to understand the relations between the terms “marketing” and “advertising” is to think of marketing as a pie containing a number of pieces including advertising, public relations, media planning, product pricing, distribution, sales strategy, market research, community involvement and customer support.

While marketing is a set of measures and actions, advertising is just one of its aspects. Marketing is a language of communication between sellers and buyers, while ads are important messages created based on this language.

Marketing is the overall process of boosting mass awareness of a product, service, person or idea, while advertising is just a tool of boosting this public awareness. Marketing always involves deep studying of the product, economic conditions and target audience, and creates a strategy. Advertising creates a single tactic within this strategy and concentrates on narrow specified tasks.

While advertising usually has a fixed price, marketing costs can never be fully calculated as it includes so many spheres, factors and activities that it is difficult to say at which point it starts.

Hopefully, you feel less confused about the two terms after having read this article.

Comparison Chart

Marketing Advertising
A set of measures aimed at promotion of goods, services, people or ideas A tool of marketing
Includes a wide range of activities Includes a number of specified tasks
Can’t have a fixed price Has a fixed price


A short and informative video on the differences between marketing and advertising is available here: