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Tweet of the Week

Marketing vs. Advertising: Can You Spot the Difference?

June 18, 2021
Mae Rice

Marketing and advertising aren't synonyms — all advertising is marketing, but not all marketing is advertising. Inspired by a tweet, we dug into the distinction.

Table of Contents

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Growth marketer Vedika Bhaia is right here. But what’s the difference?

Here’s our two cents: advertising is a subset of marketing.

The three elements of marketing

Marketing is an umbrella term, made up of three core categories:

  • Paid (a.k.a. advertising) — Think paid social media and paid search. On these channels, you pay to rent the attention of an audience someone else built. 
  • Owned — This includes email marketing, SEO and content marketing. It’s not free, because it takes headcount and software, but you don’t pay per message or per view — you’re reaching an audience you built yourself. 
  • Earned — This encompasses PR and word of mouth, and it’s the closest to free. (Though PR agencies are pricey.) It’s people hyping your product or company to their audiences out of genuine enthusiasm. 

Our takeaway? 

All marketing has a cost — at the very least, it takes time! But it’s not advertising unless you’re paying to reach someone else’s audience.

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is senior editor at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she enjoys interviewing marketing experts and learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture. She also loves any ad that makes her say "Huh?!" — especially Tim and Eric's ad for Totino's pizza rolls, which she watches way more often than you would think.

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