Digital Marketing & Digital Advertising: Breaking Down the Differences

January 16, 2019


Since 1941, when the first advertisement was aired on television, ads have been around to market products and services to the masses. Apart from television, radio, print and film have also been formidable mediums through which advertisers share ads. With the advent of technology came digital marketing. Not to be mistaken as another channel of advertising, digital marketing encompasses a plethora of marketing opportunities such as social media marketing, search engine optimization, mobile marketing solutions, email marketing, search engine marketing and much more.


In this digital marketing and digital advertising era, the lines can get blurred between the two areas. Many concepts and terms are usually confused with one another. Let’s decode the main differences between digital marketing and digital advertising in this blog.


Advertising is one part of digital marketing


The very process of digital marketing starts once a brand starts to establish its presence online. A business’s ongoing marketing strategy involves decision-making in many areas and on many levels such as pricing of the product or service, the entire look, feel and design, choosing what kind of ads and posts will be used, etc. Advertising is, thus, one part of the entire marketing strategy along with other activities. In other words, digital advertising is more activity-based while digital marketing is process-based and it’s within this process that a brand creates advertising collateral.


As mentioned before in the article, digital marketing consists of a multitude of tools which carry out activities on different parts of the internet. Search engine optimization, paid Google ads, social media ads and campaigns, blogs, etc are just a few varied forms of marketing that join advertising under the digital marketing umbrella.


Digital marketing is highly data-driven


Digital marketing provides in-depth analytics and metrics about an audience and your marketing efforts while a campaign is going on. For example, if it’s a social media campaign, you can create a whole custom audience of people to reach, or create an audience solely of people that have already visited your website. If you’re marketing on search engines like Google, you can target people searching for exactly what your business is offering. There is a way to gain exact information online for almost every kind of marketing situation and this is one of the biggest advantages of digital marketing. Recently, traditional advertising has also started adopting a more data-driven approach towards ROI measurement and generating real results.


Difference in Communication


Advertising is usually a one-way communication street - showcasing a brand’s product or service to an audience and leaving it at that. A good advertisement definitely makes an impact or sends across a message, resulting in people buying a product and remembering a brand but if it’s engagement with an audience you want, then digital marketing gives you better results. Social media engagement and email marketing are examples of how digital marketing offers a two-way communication with a brand’s audience.


Difference in how the Audience Perceives the Brand


Advertisements are great for creating brand awareness and establishing the existence of a brand, whether it’s online or on a medium like a television or the radio. But digital marketing completely controls how a brand will be perceived to an audience. Defining the image of the brand and the automatic impression a potential customer gets of a brand when they see or hear about it is what goes on in the process of digital marketing as long as the lifespan of the business.


The question isn’t about whether digital marketing is better than digital advertising and vice versa. Both areas work for brand development in their own positive ways. While it’s easier to track ROI and make use of other analytic capabilities of digital marketing, advertising has the ability to move consumers and impact people emotionally. Some advertisements are just plain clever and witty. Ultimately, it’s just good to know the difference between digital marketing and digital advertising to make more informed choices when it comes to successfully building a brand’s journey.

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