What is the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing?

Marketing vs. AdvertisingAs a result of the significant number of similarities in the two professions, determining the differences between advertising and marketing can be somewhat challenging. Nevertheless, although agencies and employers may use the titles interchangeably, there are some fundamental differences that arise when considering the formal definitions.

The Similarities

An important indication of the similarity between advertising and marketing comes from consulting the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.¬†Searches for “advertising” and “marketing” direct users to the same page: “Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers.” The fact that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has the two occupations under the same heading indicates that there is significant similarity. Incidentally, a bachelor’s degree is preferred, if not required, for both professions.


Despite numerous similarities, there are helpful ways to understand the differences between advertising and marketing. For example, advertising can be considered a sub-discipline of marketing. Advertising and promotions managers need not concern themselves with all the details of marketing a product. However, in addition to other responsibilities, marketing managers work with and rely on advertising and promotions managers for product promotion. One might best think of marketing as “the big picture,” the process of determining, among other things, the following: current and future demand for products, appropriate prices and strategies, and the demographic makeup of potential customers. In addition, marketing managers monitor product trends and govern the flow of goods from producers to customers. They may also conduct demographic studies of a target market and determine the best outlets through which to sell products. Despite differences, though, between advertising and marketing, marketing managers depend on advertising managers for the specific task of promoting products to consumer, according to Business Week.


As indicated, advertising might best be thought of as assisting marketing, as a sub-discipline of marketing. That is, while marketing focuses on the complete movement from producer to customer, advertising focuses on advertising campaigns whose purpose is to persuade potential customers to behave or react in a particular way. More specifically, advertising campaigns most often attempt to persuade consumers to purchase particular products that are for sale. Depending on the target population, advertising managers use a wide variety of media, such as television, Internet, direct mail, newspapers, magazines, radio, outdoor signs, and coffee cups. As one might imagine, the techniques used to promote products for sale are also used for other purposes, such as to promote charities and political candidates. For almost all media, advertising provides a substantial, if not the most important, source of income.

Related Resource: Communications Degree Jobs

Companies that hire advertising and promotions managers as well as marketing managers may not create job descriptions and duties based on formal definitions, which means that, depending on the company or agency, there may well be a significant amount of commonality between the two professions in the daily duties. Nevertheless, although similar in many ways, according to their formal definitions, advertising and marketing have the above-mentioned differences.