Marketing vs. Advertising: What's the Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 12, 2022 | Published May 25, 2021

Updated July 12, 2022

Published May 25, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marketing and advertising are both essential processes that help companies reach out to customers and increase sales. While they have many similarities, there are key differences between these processes. Understanding these differences can help you communicate with customers more effectively, which can lead to increased sales for a company.

In this article, we explain the difference between marketing and advertising, explain why each is important, describe several different marketing and advertising methods and explain when to use marketing versus advertising. 

Marketing vs. advertising

The difference between marketing and advertising is their application. Both marketing and advertising aim to inform customers about products and services with the shared goal of getting them to make a purchase. However, they are not synonyms.

Advertising is only one element of marketing, but the marketing process also involves creation, consumer understanding, data analysis, design and market research. Marketing aims to define a product or service and prepare it for the market. Advertising focuses on how marketers communicate information about the product or service to their consumers.

Read more: What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

Why is marketing important?

Marketing is important because it encompasses the entire research and analysis process for a product or service. Marketers often study audience responses to create content that influences customers to make a purchase. Marketing strives to create mission statements and advertising slogans that can accurately represent a brand's message. Marketing strategy often  involves four basic pillars or the four Ps:

  • Product: Product refers to what you sell. It could be a physical good, service or skill.

  • Place: Place is where you choose to promote your good or service. The place could be online or in a physical location, but it can help to identify your target customers so you can market your product where they're most likely to see it.

  • Price: Price determines how much you charge for your product or service. This can depend on several factors, including competitor pricing, production costs and brand image.

  • Promotion: The final P refers to promotion. Companies use promotional strategies to let consumers know about their products or services.

Marketing material production often focuses on brand tone and personality, target audiences and distribution strategies. These strategies are important to defining what a brand stands for, how customers perceive a brand and how a brand promotes its products or services.

Read more: The Marketing Mix: The Art of Using the 4 Ps of Marketing

Types of marketing

Here are several common types of marketing you might use for your business:

Social media marketing

Social media marketing uses social platforms and websites to promote products and services, communicate with customers, grow their brand reputation and measure the effectiveness of campaigns. Social media marketing has grown in popularity over recent years as more and more brands use popular platforms to connect with their customers and target their audience segments directly. Performance marketing strategies and affiliate content are popular types of social media marketing.

Related: Complete Guide to Marketing Analytics


Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing uses customer interactions to determine what a company pays for its promotional content. This way, companies can determine the effectiveness of their content, only pay for successful ad campaigns and maximize the size of their audience. This type of marketing is all about driving engagement and collecting data that helps companies better serve their customers.

Related: Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: Differences

Content marketing

Content marketing involves the creation, publication and distribution of content for a specific audience. Typically, marketers conduct content marketing online and through mobile and digital applications and channels. Marketing materials can include e-books, online webinars, videos and educational articles. Content marketers often strive to make their communications relevant to consumers and consistent with their brand.

Related: 12 Marketing Tips for Your Marketing Campaign

Email marketing

Email marketing uses mailing lists to send advertisements, gather feedback through surveys, distribute company information, request business or solicit donations and sales. Email marketing can be an effective way to connect with customers and communicate important information about your product or service.

It can also allow an opportunity for two-way communication with customers and other professionals in your network. You can also implement email marketing to request customer feedback about your brand or business.

Related: 20 Examples of Marketing Assets

Search engine optimization marketing

Effective SEO marketing can help boost your brand's search ratings on major search engines when customers type in and search for products or services similar to yours. SEO marketing focuses on elevating the quantity and quality of traffic from customer searches to a company's website or web page.

Optimizing your content for search engines requires an understanding of your customers' needs to determine the keywords they're likely to use when searching for a product or service.

Related: Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: Which One To Use

Why is advertising important?

Advertising is important because it helps companies make customers aware of their products and services. Advertising serves as the application of marketing strategies you develop for your campaign. Effective advertising campaigns can grow audiences, help brands align with customer desires and drive sales. Advertising content can come in many media types, carefully selected to generate maximum excitement for a product or service.

Related: 8 Types of Digital Advertising: Definitions and Benefits

Types of advertising

Depending on your advertising goals, your promotional content can come in many forms. Most companies use a mix of the following advertising content to promote their products and services:

  • Display advertising: Display advertising uses banners, graphics, text, flash, video and audio content to deliver brand messages to the users of a website.

  • Native advertising: Native advertising uses a site's existing content to promote a product or service. This more subtle form of advertising introduces information about a product or service through an affiliate's site or within their personal content.

  • Mobile advertising: Mobile advertising is when advertisers promote their content through smartphones. In-app advertisements are one common way you might see mobile advertising.

  • Video advertising: Advertisers often use video advertising before, after or embedded within published video content. Online streaming services, video hosting sites and websites might display video advertisements.

  • Print advertising: Print advertising is content published in magazines, newspapers, catalogs and other print sources.

Read more: 14 Types of Advertising

When to use advertising vs. marketing?

While most settings use the terms interchangeably, there are several important distinctions between marketing and advertising. Advertising often depends on timeliness and strategy, and it is specific to brand communication.

However, marketing is typically broad and focuses on more long-term processes that aim to optimize promotional efforts for the greatest return on marketing investments. Likewise, marketing is a process for understanding consumer behavior and incorporating market research into your strategies.

Advertising, then, applies the understanding you gain to focus creative energies on the design and content production for promotional materials.

Explore more articles