Advertising vs. Marketing: Comparing Commonly Confused Business Careers

Advertising vs Marketing

Winning prestigious advertising awards. Launching marketing campaigns that blow away the competition. If you’re a creative (and competitive) type, chances are you’ve considered what it’s like to live the fast-paced life of an advertising or marketing professional.

The truth of the matter is that either of these career routes could be the perfect fit for you. But before you dive in, you’ll want to check out the differences between advertising versus marketing.

Advertising vs. marketing: How they fit together

People often use the words marketing and advertising interchangeably, but there is a difference. Marketing is an overarching term that includes advertising under its umbrella, so to speak.

Marketing is the whole process of determining product, placement, promotion and pricing. Advertising covers the promotion part of this process.

A closer look at marketing

Marketing is all about finding the potential value of a product or offering and determining the best way to inform the public of this offering’s value.  As a marketer, you could be involved in any of these stages of the marketing cycle, commonly known as the 4 P’s of marketing:

  • Product: This step can include anything from product design to determining if there is a want or need for such a product in the marketplace.
  • Placement: Once you have your product, determine the best way to get it in front of the consumer—retail, online, event marketing or any of several other strategies play into this.
  • Promotion: Here’s where advertising comes in, but even here it’s only part of the picture. In addition to advertising, a promotional campaign can also include public relations, events, sponsorships and more.
  • Pricing: Determining the optimal price to maximize sales is essential to the marketing process. You don’t want to price too low and miss revenue, but not so high that it chases away customers.

But even after the sale, a marketer’s job is not done.

“Marketing is all of the steps leading up to the sale and all of the steps that come afterwards,” says Christina Mackey, Marketing Manager at GoWrench Auto.

What comes after the sale? Market research, for one thing. While there is plenty of preliminary market research conducted, analysis after the fact can be a gold mine of information. Questions regarding what consumers like about the product, where they heard about it and whether they would they buy it again, can all help guide future marketing decisions.

It should be mentioned that many marketing jobs are numbers-oriented, such as forecasting budgets, sales and consumer demand.

“Marketing today is more about science and data analytics,” observes Victor Ramirez, owner of An Abstract Agency.

Common marketing job titles

Every marketing department will have a variety of experts, giving you various avenues of opportunity for your career. You’ll find management job titles below, but just remember there are also many jobs within a marketing department titled as associate or specialist under each of these headings.

  • Marketing managers are responsible for the overall planning and execution of the marketing program. The person who holds this job must be well-versed in all phases of marketing.
  • Advertising managers oversee the development and strategy related to advertising. This role is often responsible for hiring an advertising agency or managing an in-house creative staff.
  • Brand managers help develop and protect brand assets such as company logos, slogans, taglines, organizational voices, style guides and more.
  • Public relations managers create and maintain positive public perceptions for an organization. They often forge relationships with members of the media to tell the organization’s story.
  • Sales managers work with the sales team to develop strategies and set goals for selling the company’s products or services. 

A closer look at advertising

“Advertising is just one of the many tools we use to make marketing successful,” says Bob Clary, Director of Online Engagement at Intellibright

Advertising is exclusively from the promotional phase of marketing, but it’s not alone within a promotional strategy. Advertising is often referred to as paid media because the client totally controls the message and placement of the ads. This is different than public relations (often referred to as earned media) in which you hope to get favorable publicity through gatekeepers such as editors, news directors, bloggers or social media specialists.

Common advertising job titles

Advertising job titles will vary depending on the setting. Many advertising professionals work for agencies who serve multiple clients—and with that comes roles dedicated to managing multiple priorities. That said, there’s still a fair share of advertising professionals working on internal “in-house” advertising teams.

Here are just a few of the advertising job titles you may see in your job search:

  • Account representatives work in advertising agencies and serve as a go-between for clients and the creative teams that serve them. This requires a great sense for customer service and understanding of how to realistically accommodate client requests.
  • Graphic designers and art directors are the creatives who set visual layouts, choose typography, work with photographers and do just about everything else to make advertising look attractive. These professionals work closely with copywriters to maintain a cohesive look and feel.
  • Copywriters are the wordsmiths who compose headlines, body copy and everything else related to language. They are responsible for developing a voice for the client that should be maintained throughout all components of the advertising campaign. 

What’s the job outlook for advertising and marketing professionals?

Overall, advertising and marketing positions are doing well. Check out what the Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about median salary and projected job growth for these titles:

Median Salary And Projected Job Growth

Job Title 2016 Median Annual Salary* Projected Employment Growth 2014-2024
Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers $127,560 9%
Art Directors $89,820 2%
Public Relations Specialists $58,020 6%
Market Research Analysts $62,560 19%
Graphic Designers $47,460 1%

Advertising vs. marketing: Which will you choose?

Now that you know the answers to some of the key questions regarding advertising versus marketing, take some time to evaluate which of these jobs might be best for you. Fortunately for you, there are some tell-tale signs to look for.

Find out if you’d fit in the marketing world by checking out our article, “6 Signs You Might Be Destined to Work in Marketing.”


*BLS salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

About the author

Gordon Hanson

Gordon is a freelance writer for Collegis Education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. He enjoys using the storytelling power of words to help others discover new paths in the journeys of life.

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