What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

Updated October 3, 2022

Both marketing and advertising serve a purpose within a company's overall promotional goals and sales strategy. However, marketing and advertising are two different departments. If you're interested in either of those fields, it's important to know the definition of each and the tactics employed to understand where you could work best. In this article, we define what marketing and advertising are, the differences between the two industries and popular roles within each.

What is marketing?

Marketing is the process of planning, implementing and optimizing promotional strategies with the goal of boosting visibility and brand awareness and increasing revenue. It also allows a company to define its products and services, research potential markets and create a strategy for how to target its desired audience most effectively. A marketing department or an executive board is responsible for implementing and overseeing the marketing process, while those who specialize in certain aspects of marketing, like social media marketing, create the campaigns.

What is a marketing campaign?

A marketing campaign is designed to drive greater awareness for a product, service or business. Here are the steps to create a marketing campaign:

1. Identify the company's unique value proposition or unique selling proposition

Products and services are designed to solve a certain issue that customers have within that given industry. As a marketing professional, understanding the needs that the product fills and how it sets itself apart from similar solutions currently available on the market is essential to defining the UVP or USP of the marketing strategy. These benefits are ultimately what defines the marketing copy and drive conversions during the launching of marketing campaigns.

2. Explore potential markets

Using market research, marketing teams identify who the best audience is to target for their products or services. They may determine their customers' wants, needs, preferences, shopping styles and other demographic information that informs a consumer's buying decisions. They could also create an ideal consumer profile to fully develop their target audience.

3. Conduct competitor research

Beyond market research, competitor research allows marketers to better understand market gaps. They can learn where competitors excel with their marketing strategies, then create competitive pricing structures. This research can also improve promotional efficiency by targeting the most effective marketing channels that competitors use.

4. Design a strategy that targets potential markets

Marketing executives select diverse channels that are most ideal to promote information about their product or service. Different channels offer various benefits, with video campaigns performing best on popular video platforms and visually based campaigns performing best on social media pages. Other considerations to make during this stage include creating a budget for the marketing campaign, developing the copy, setting KPIs and determining the metrics that could best measure the campaign's success.

5. Continue research and collect feedback

Marketing requires professionals to analyze customer feedback, website analytics and social media analytics to better understand how individuals interact with the product or service and their buying behaviors. They can then use this information to develop detailed buyer personas, customize the message to meet the target audience and further strengthen the overall marketing strategy. It's important for marketers to repeat these steps continuously to gather updated information and optimize their campaigns.

What is advertising?

Advertising is the set of communication strategies that a company uses to execute a marketing campaign. More specifically, it's the use of media to share information about products and services with the public and target markets. Some advertising methods include:

  • Newspaper and magazine ads

  • TV commercials

  • Radio ads

  • Billboards

  • Website banners

Newer advertising strategies include using social media ads, promotions and influencer partnerships to reach audiences.

What does an advertising agency do?

An advertising agency is responsible for a number of tasks essential to meeting a company's marketing goals. Some of the responsibilities advertising agencies have include:

Developing the overall creative plan

An advertising team designs an overarching plan that helps them identify the message, tone, style, audience and media needed for their marketing strategy. They typically use third-party data and input from the marketing team to make these decisions and ultimately present their findings to the executive board or a client.

Delivering creative materials

Once a plan has been approved, an account manager distributes a creative brief to the team, and the creative director begins to execute the plan. Photographers capture or source images, while producers hire models and scout locations, depending on the type of advertising tactics employed. Meanwhile, copywriters write the content, while graphic designers use desktop publishing and graphic design programs to create ads.

Maintaining public relationships and negotiations

Many advertisement agencies manage the public perception of the company they're working with, developing press releases and creating excitement as they release a new product or service. Advertising agencies may also coordinate and negotiate with external media professionals, like news teams, in order to effectively carry out a company's marketing strategy within their desired budget. This depends on whether the advertising agency has an in-house team of professionals or enlists the help of freelancers or temporary advertising specialists as well.

Related: Types of Advertisements and What Makes Them Successful

Differences between advertising and marketing

Both advertising and marketing are involved in the company's branding process and the creation of a look, logo and identity that's instantly recognizable. Through professionals in each department have similar duties, there are some key qualifications and skills that differentiate them. Here are some differences between advertising and marketing that can help you make a more informed career decision:

Educational demands and expectations

Both advertising and marketing employers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. However, the coursework may vary between the degrees in the two fields. A marketing professional, for example, might obtain a Bachelor of Science in marketing business administration with a concentration in marketing. You can also get a bachelor's degree with a focus on social media marketing or marketing management. Further studies could include a Master of Business Administration with concentrations in fields such as supply chain management and sales.

An advertising professional can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in communications or advertising. If they pursue a communications degree instead, they may take classes in journalism, communication, broadcast and public relations in addition to advertising, copywriting, new media communication and design. A degree in advertising typically has a more narrow focus on advertising skills in creative strategy, copywriting, design, principles of advertising, content creation, brand strategy and even some sociology classes. Coursework is likely to be hands-on and creative.

Read more: A Guide To Marketing Degrees

Goals and responsibilities

A marketing professional supports the marketing department in conceptualizing, implementing and evaluating marketing strategies designed to boost brand awareness and increase revenue. Job duties for those in these roles include:

  • Conducting research into the market to identify prospective customers as well as the target audience

  • Producing data-backed market and competitor research and presenting this data to marketing managers

  • Developing a multi-pronged approach to marketing to provide comprehensive support that helps the company meet its KPIs and profit goals

  • Overseeing the different marketing approaches to ensure the message is cohesive and unified and A/B testing the impact of these messages

  • Collaborating with team members to identify shortcomings or issues with past marketing campaigns to create more effective promotional materials

  • Brainstorming unique marketing tactics and messages to help the company stand out from competitors

An advertising professional's job is to create print, radio, broadcast and internet advertisements that entice and inform potential customers about the product or service the company is selling. Job duties can include:

  • Using photo design software to create print ads

  • Meeting with clients to better understand their advertising goals and unique tone and style

  • Brainstorming and creating storyboards and proposals for advertisements

  • Scouting models and locations for photo and video shoots for advertisements

  • Writing engaging copy and taglines to go with the ads

Read more: What Do Marketers Do?


Marketing professionals are focused on strategies that attract the greatest number of customers and convert leads. Their work requires the following skills:

  • Analytical skills, including the ability to analyze large sets of data in terms of market research and social media analytics

  • Business and financial skills, including the ability to plan budgets, allocate funds to campaigns and estimate return on investment (ROI)

  • Research skills and knowledge of current marketing software being used by modern marketing departments

An advertising professional needs to understand what the product is and who the audience is, translating this information into the most effective ad campaign to fulfill the goals set forth in the marketing strategy. Necessary skills for this role include:

  • Creative skills, including the ability to design visually striking ads, write taglines and craft compelling storylines for video ads

  • Communication skills, as they work in a team with other creative professionals, such as photographers and actors

  • Technical skills in order to use graphic design programs or photo and video editing software

Related: The 5 Best Marketing Skills To Include on Your Resume

Marketing roles

The following are common career paths within the field of marketing:

1. Brand ambassador

National average salary: $42,255 per year

Primary duties: These professionals serve as a public face for a company's brand. They create, manage and implement social media strategies for clients, including creating original content on their own social media channels. Depending on the needs of the company, they may also appear in person at events such as launches and trade shows.

Related: Learn About Being a Brand Ambassador

2. Marketing director

National average salary: $82,400 per year

Primary duties: Marketing directors lead teams of marketing professionals in executing the marketing strategy. They work to identify trends, analyze research and create a consistent, effective strategy. These professionals also manage the marketing team or department's budget to ensure all efforts are efficient and profitable.

Related: Learn About Being a Marketing Director

3. Product marketing manager

National average salary: $108,957 per year

Primary duties: These professionals conduct market research and analyze competitors to understand the positions of their company's product or service. Product marketing managers are responsible for ensuring consistent messaging and training marketing teams on best practices in regard to product marketing strategies.

Related: Learn About Being a Product Marketing Manager

Advertising roles

The following are some common career paths within the field of advertising:

1. Advertising manager

National average salary: $50,319 per year

Primary duties: This professional works to collect all creative output including designs and copy and facilitate its placement. They evaluate the effectiveness of a campaign based on consumer feedback, providing additional guidance as advertisers adjust old campaigns and develop new ones. They may also be involved in hiring and managing advertising staff, including designers and copywriters.

Related: Learn About Being an Advertising Manager

2. Art director

National average salary: $71,628 per year

Primary duties: This professional is in charge of the visual representation of a campaign, including design, layout, photography and videography. They often collaborate with the creative director to ensure the brand's message is clearly, accurately and effectively conveyed through design. In addition, they may guide designers in developing spreads, icons, color schemes and other elements.

Related: Learn About Being an Art Director

3. Creative director

National average salary: $80,211 per year

Primary duties: This advertising professional leads the ad team in translating market analysis to create a cohesive and engaging brand, voice and campaign. They may be in charge of an advertising team's budget for staffing, production and timeline.

Related: Learn About Being a Creative Director

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