Difference between Digital Advertising and Digital Marketing: They’re not the same!

Difference between Digital Advertising and Digital Marketing

Sorry to burst your bubble, but did you know that digital advertising and digital marketing are two different ways of publicizing your business? If you’re unsure of what marketing and advertising means then it’s best to brush up on the differences.

Well, perhaps you have deliberated this before.  But get this, some marketers or businesses aren’t aware of this, hence the reason for this entry to spare you your sanity.

Bear in mind, I am not trying to create a debate here, it’s not a competition as both Digital Advertising and Digital Marketing go hand in hand. They both aim to attract your potential customers in their respective manner.

Let’s walk you through the differences so you can learn how to best utilize both to your added advantage.

What is Digital Advertising?

Digital Advertising is the process of promoting or publicizing any promotional material or asset through online platforms such as search engines, websites, and social media, and anything that can be retrieved online. It is also known as online advertising, web advertising, internet marketing, and many more to others — but let’s focus on referring to it as digital advertising so we don’t get lost here. In the digital landscape, there are many names and terms for the same thing due to the abundance of information provided by different sources (there’s no right or wrong) so it’s best to stay on track with the digital terms you’re most familiar with and comfortable with to avoid confusion.

According to Wikipedia, “digital advertising is a form of marketing and advertising in which the messages are delivered to the target audience through the internet.”

Consumers today spend a majority of their time on the internet, so digital advertising is the only way your business is going to be discoverable to your audience.

Digital advertising is great for leveraging on the existing audience of big names such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Bing, and many more. To help get your ad across, advertisers will buy ad space on websites, Google SERPs. And more.

When you run ads online or are promoting your products, services, or creating awareness for your brand, it’s an act of digital advertising.

Here are three main types of digital advertising:

  • Pay-Per-Click Ads (PPC):

Pay-per-click is a form of paid advertising where marketers pay to place ads that direct their potential audience to their website. Marketers usually place the ads on Google, Bing, and more SERPs or websites and pay a fee each time the ad is being clicked. These ads often show up at the top of SERP and are determined by different bids on specific keywords. Banner ads, on the other hand usually have set prices.




  • Display Ads:


Display advertising is the process of promoting a product or service through advertising with visuals like images, videos, on certain sites on the Google display network, Facebook, and more. Display ads are usually situated on relevant third-party websites in the form of a banner, image, or text-ad format.


  • Social Ads:

Social ads are created to deliver in the form of ads on social sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and more. For instance, if you see a suggested post on Facebook or any other social site, you’re looking at a social ad which is a form of digital advertising as well.

However, digital advertising can be tricky if there is no proper digital marketing plan involved in terms of audience targeting. It can be considered a disruptive form of marketing. For instance, when you’re in the middle of watching a YouTube video and a pre-roll ad shows up, you will most likely feel bombarded and click the skip ad button to continue whatever it is that you were watching before.

Many advertisers face a challenge in the digital clutter of ads, trying to cut through the noise because most people don’t want to be bombarded with ads due to the frequency, timing, placement of an ad, the lack of relevancy, and purely bad targeting gives it a negative light, resorting in people installing ad-blocking software to block the ads from even showing which is every marketer’s worst nightmare and is a waste of time, money, effort.


What is Digital Marketing?


Digital marketing is your marketing initiatives that ride on digital media and the internet through connected devices such as mobile phones, tablets, desktops, etc. The role marketing plays is to distribute a brand message through search engines, social media, email marketing, apps, websites, and anything online that acts as a host for information.

In this day and age, marketing is all about building relationships. It is more personalized and is tailored to reach the modern-day consumer with strategized content marketing across multiple platforms to reach a consumer in every stage of the marketing funnel. It is no longer sales-driven like traditional marketing and focuses more on the buyer journey for more long-term quality results.

Marketing involves the process of planning, promoting, selling a product or services in the marketplace, and according to Hubspot, with all the advanced technology, digital marketing has transformed into a secure way of running a business with no assumptions:

Simply put, here’s the lowdown:

  • Define your target audience through developing valuable buyer personas.
  • Identify the goals and objectives of your digital marketing campaign.
  • Evaluation of effective digital marketing distribution channels such as content marketing, PPC, SEO, and many more.
  • Auditing existing channels and acquiring new ones that are relevant for your business.
  • Track, analyze, and monitor digital marketing efforts.

It’s crazy because marketing is like a digital umbrella filled with many aspects, Advertising is merely a subset of the marketing process that implements the promotional content to generate more sales, interactions, and engagement.

Are you still with me? Alright, let’s dive into the types of digital marketing you see online.

Here are the different types of digital marketing (advertising is a part of it too):

  • SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization which is the practice of driving quantity and quality traffic to your website organically (unpaid).

Let our team of SEO experts get you to the top!

Content marketing is a strategic approach that revolves around distributing relevant and valuable, and consistent content to communicate their brand message that acts as a lead magnet to and retain their desired audience but is ultimately to drive sales and create brand loyalty in the long run.

If your business is having trouble creating impactful content, leave it to our wordsmiths and wizards!

A form of marketing that focuses on targeting key industry leaders who they find influential towards a relevant audience to increase engagement and to drive sales. Before you go on the hunt, it’s best to consult with an agency first.

Social media marketing is the use of social media websites and networks to market a company’s brand, products, and services. It enables businesses to reach and engage with their customers and display their brand persona, culture, mission, tone, and more.

If you have no idea where to start with social media marketing, search ads, influencers, we can help with the following services. Look no further!

  • Email marketing

Email marketing is a strategy that is based on sending emails and developing relationships with prospects and customers. It is by far the most effective marketing channel when it comes to building relationships with customers.

Online advertising is also known as internet advertising or digital advertising, is a form of marketing and advertising which requires the use of the internet to distribute promotional marketing messages to consumers.

  • Online PR

An online marketing strategy used by businesses to boost their digital presence. They do this by pulling the best strings in the industry, maintaining close relationships with journalists, bloggers, influencers, and celebrities, and distribute online press releases to gain quality social mentions, cross-promotions, and to improve their overall SEO. 


 What is the difference between Digital Advertising & Digital Marketing?

If you’re still confused about the two different terms, that is completely normal because it is often used interchangeably. Just bear in mind that advertising plays an integral part in marketing and it shouldn’t be utilized against each other. Instead of deciding which to choose for your campaign, understand that a good marketing strategy combines these two essential elements.

  • Digital advertising is an aspect of digital marketing

By now, one thing is clear, and that is digital advertising is only a part of digital marketing.

When you intend to market in a digital channel, you need a business plan or idea. When you share this business proposal or pitch, you’re involved in the planning stages which is marketing.

From the product creation, the idea, packaging, pricing, identifying your niche, target audience, and market segmentation are all essential parts of your business marketing strategy.

Market segmentation is important and benefits your business, as customers’ needs all differ. Through segmentation, you’ll be able to:

  • Make it easier to identify what products to create a separate product for each customer segment.
  • Enhance profits for business as customers vary in terms of spending power and income bracket. Businesses can raise the average cost and enhance their profits.
  • Better opportunities for growth. Marketing segmentation can increase sales.
  • Retain more customers by reaching them at different stages of the marketing funnel so you won’t lose them to the competition.
  • Target marketing communications by being more precise with who you communicate your message to.
  • Gain market share by dominating the market so you become the preferred choice for customers and distributors.

The role of digital advertising here is when you use the internet to advertise your products and services or your brand or business. This is when you can use PPC to promote your products or to generate more traffic.

Digital advertising is just one part of digital marketing among others, but the main purpose of it all is to generate traffic and you can choose which tactic will help your business grow, it can be PPC, SEO, or both,


  • Digital marketing is a process while digital advertising is an activity

Digital marketing is a process that is a continuous cycle that starts with market research all the way down to gaining control in the stages of the marketing funnel.

Overall, every move you make online as a business and what you share online is part of the marketing process and strategy.

A great example of the digital marketing process would be the McDonald’s iced fruit smoothie app and how they partnered with Innocent Smoothies to promote their smoothies and ice cream.

According to The Guardian, “Many thought something like this surely could never happen. Cuddly, defiantly non-corporate Innocent Smoothies getting into bed with McDonald’s.

Indeed. And it worked.

Instead of creating a new app, McDonald’s partnered up with apps that consumers had already downloaded. By playing this simple game, consumers get to win a free smoothie.



This process couldn’t be any simpler and more brilliant as a digital marketing process for Mcdonald’s to increase the sales of smoothie brand, Innocent, and their ice creams. It’s a total win-win for both parties. And it was purely marketing involved in this too and not one bit of advertising. This process started by:

  • Identifying the objectives
  • Creating buyer personas
  • Finding collaborative opportunities
  • Evaluation of opportunities
  • Distributing the message
  • Tracking filtering out offers

This is how digital marketing works.

Digital advertising is more like the activity in the whole digital marketing process. The main purpose of digital advertising is to promote, distribute, and publish content or anything via ads to increase brand exposure and traffic.

How it usually works is the digital advertiser will require input from a digital marketer on what to promote, when to promote, and what the advertising ad budget is, and the whole works. The marketer will then create the ads to drive traffic to their campaign landing page. This is a process that happens in the digital marketing process.

If your business needs help to build a website from scratch or developing a corporate website, landing page, or eCommerce store, they can consult with Wonder Pod.

  • Digital advertising is tactical while digital marketing is strategic

When it comes to digital advertising, it is tactical by nature and defines how a product or service is being distributed to the target audience. It is only for a short duration and can be easily repeated. For example, you run a social ad on Facebook to promote your Christmas campaign to increase sales. Once you’ve hit your desired goal, you move on to another campaign or channel.

On the other hand, you have digital marketing that is strategic by nature and requires a lot of complex planning and involves a lot of decision-making, marketing efforts, while the tactic is used to get to the desired goal.

Digital marketing involves:
·      Planning
·      Defining your goals & objectives
·      Setting annual goals
·      Setting the marketing budget
·      Analyzing marketing metrics
·      Developing ways to achieve objectives

Let’s extract a case study of B2B Inbound Marketer, which managed to grow its website from 0 to 4000 monthly visitors in a span of 4 years. The founder, John Beveridge developed a marketing strategy and was aware of the plan and his projections.

SOURCE: Digital Marketing Results

They restructured their blog to a no-sidebar format with a lead generation form at the bottom of the blog post. The reason behind this restructuring was to focus our audience’s attention on the lead generation offer instead of disrupting their visit with a sidebar or a pop-up with offers and many sections.

The goal was to produce content that genuinely helps the audience with quality blog content to help solve their pain points.

Advertising and marketing on Facebook did not get any traction for their business as it is becoming a “pay-to-play” network and with limited time, it was not getting results.

So, by continuing to stay true to our business nature and by paying more attention to our visitor’s needs by publishing weekly blog posts which have led to another milestone with their website traffic, attracting over 4,000 visitors to the site.

This is a classic study of how by understanding your consumer’s pain points, you can optimize it by creating a better UX experience when navigating on your site — this is marketing.

Now, let’s compare this to an advertising campaign that is able to show us the results almost instantly. Let’s refer to an advertising case study of how Angela Ponsford turned to a Facebook ad campaign to generate leads. She spent $507 and resulted in $1980 worth of revenue and managed to collect 400 leads.

However, if she planned on building a proper brand image and developing relationships with people so they would continue to perceive her brand and services in the long haul, this process would be digital marketing. It depends on the business nature, really.

SOURCE: Facebook Advertising

The campaign was a short-term success without any long-term planning behind it. An advertising campaign doesn’t impact the business if it fails to work but a digital marketing campaign will definitely do major damage if it fails to kick off.

  • Digital advertising creates brand awareness while digital marketing develops the brand

The purpose of digital advertising is to promote a brand and generate sales. Advertisements are considered a promotional message to get your brand message across and to score a product sale; it’s more to generating traffic.

For example, the brand LEGO utilized three documentaries to create awareness among mothers through Facebook ads and managed to increase the brand awareness. Marketing, however, is used to develop their brand image and how their audience perceives their brand when they see a logo or come across your brand.

SOURCE: Digital Marketing Awareness Process

Marketing is deep-rooted in strategy, just like developing any meaningful relationship, marketing takes time, perhaps years to develop a strategy to successfully show your brand to your target audience to build brand recall, association, and recognition. If you aim to be an unforgettable brand, a good marketing strategy may take time, trial and error, and repeat cycles to fall into place but it’s for the long run. Just like the saying goes by Ben Francia “What comes easy, won’t always last. And what will last, won’t always come easy.”

Here’s a colorful quote for keepsake.

SOURCE:  Ben Francia quote

The nature of digital marketing is strategic, therefore it requires a delicately crafted strategy to help build and nurture a brand, as compared to digital advertising that is only good to drive momentary sales and brand awareness.

  • Digital advertising is sales-driven while digital marketing is focused on the human psyche

Digital advertising is like the action of running a PPC campaign, for example, those ads you see on SERPs, social media sites in between feeds, and on websites are all advertising. Their main intention is to get a lead to take action by clicking on the ad for marketing to take place.

When it comes to marketing, it’s more than just PPC, it’s more than driving sales and maximizing revenue. It’s about understanding your audience and their pain points.

For instance, you conduct your market research to identify your target audience and decipher the demand for your product and services. Let’s say, when you’re planning on publishing a blog post, you need to understand what your audience needs, how to provide them with solutions to solve their pain points, and to build a connection or relationship with your readers that you’re the industry expert that’s here to help so they feel more inclined to return to your blog site for more industry-related information. This is what makes digital marketing more intuitive and psychology focused.

Digital marketing takes into account understanding the entire audience by developing buyer personas to help with market segmentation and digital advertising focuses on a specific segment that can be reached by an ad.


Marketing tips and solutions to help ensure your Advertising efforts are a success

So, now you know that advertising and marketing are completely different but are interrelated to one another.

Is it possible to launch a successful advertising campaign without involving marketing work? Not if you want to maximize your budget and reach your audience effectively!

Always remember that advertising is an integral aspect of marketing and you shouldn’t choose one over the other. It takes two to tango.

By combining these two essential elements together, you will increase your business potential. Here are some ways:

1. Build Brand Recognition

At times, as marketers or business owners, we only focus on the bigger picture but tend to leave the smallest details behind.

Let’s just say, your brand might deliver impeccable service but what good is your service if nobody can recognize your logo or remember your brand name. Your job is to make them remember, over and over again until it leaves a mark in their minds.

Branding isn’t about creating a sophisticated logo or brand tagline; it’s about staying simple and relevant to your viewers.

Even something as simple as being consistent across all your social media channels with the same standard logo in all your marketing assets and the same play of colors in your advertisements can make an impactful difference on how your customers remember you.

Here, you can take a look at the world’s most memorable brands and logos.

SOURCE:  Brand recognition logo

Another aspect that tends to be overlooked is your company website, in terms of marketing and your brand recognition. Do not ignore the design state of your website.

If you want to build a website that’s informative, easy to navigate and has all the branding elements to make your brand instantly recognizable, team up with an agency to make that happen!

2. Do Your Research

How well do you think you know your target audience?

Market research, such as online surveys, polls, product testing can help you better understand what your customers are looking for, the price they’re willing to pay, and which online platforms are they using to search for their needs.

Advertising without marketing is like trying to aim for the bullseye — blindfolded. You may get lucky with your first attempt, but the chances are close to nothing the next time around. It will most probably result in a digital disaster due to your lack of planning and organizing.

No business wants to waste money, so taking time to design a feasible sales strategy in your overall marketing game plan is crucial for your business in the long run.

3. Develop a social media following

Your ad can be the best one out there, but if nobody lays an eye on it or even knows of it, then what’s the point of its’s existence?

In today’s ever-changing digital marketing landscape, your following is what makes you, those are the people that appreciate your brand enough to know what you’re all about, the updates you provide, and more. The key is to form a better “look-alike” audience that is very similar to your existing audience in terms of buying behavior, social media habits and patterns, and demographics of people that are huge fans of your business.

It’s not always about paid advertising, sometimes you just want to know who your organic followers are, those are the people that generally believe in your brand.

Level up your digital marketing game by posting relevant and interactive content, communicate directly with your consumers via social media. Most importantly, always reply to questions, react to or reply to comments, messages, and sharing reviews and check-ins to help you build your community of potential advocates.

4. Diversify Channels

Whatever you do with social media, don’t park all your eggs in one basket. Like why would you do that to your brand? You’re better than that!

Do me a favor and take a look at your phone and the number of apps you have, from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Spotify, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and a lot more, how many places do you see ads on a daily basis? That’s your answer.

On top of that, this even includes traditional forms of advertisements like radio, television, and billboards. Whatever it is, you’ve been tagged.

All of these are platforms that most people interact with almost daily. Your customers are definitely not spending their time only in one place, so the question is why would you do that with your marketing budget?

This also benefits your market research as you learn more about your target market and the channels they hang out in and develop an effective marketing plan so you can reach out to more potential customers and drive conversions.

What makes your brand stand out from the rest? Let our marketing specialists at Synergy XYZ help you decide which digital marketing channels will generate the most bang for your buck!

5. Shine with customer service

According to studies, social media customer care has shown a lot of results by boosting business revenue and ROI. It shows 81% annual increase in revenue from customer referrals and increases ROI by 30.7%. To top the stats even more, for each 1% of shoppers who return for the following visit, the overall revenue will increase by 10%.

Yes, we’ve all grown accustomed to the old saying “The customer is always right” but in most cases, it is validly true.

Some may disagree with this practice, but one thing’s for sure and that is a happy customer will become your lifelong customer.

It wouldn’t kill you to train your team to be customer service experts which is a very healthy addition for your brand. Online or offline, your customers should always feel like you’re listening instead of neglecting them. This is where most businesses lack so in order to stand out, you must make effort to attend to your customer’s needs.



So, there you have it, the obvious differences between digital advertising and digital marketing. Still, confused?

If you aren’t sure where, to begin with, your digital marketing campaign and advertising efforts, it’s best to work with the industry experts to get the ball rolling! Plus, we know the difference too.

Let’s hit the refresh button on the differences:

  • Digital advertising is an aspect of digital marketing
  • Digital marketing is a process while digital advertising is an activity
  • Digital advertising is tactical while digital marketing is strategic
  • Digital advertising creates brand awareness while digital marketing develops the brand
  • Digital advertising is sales-driven while digital marketing is focused on the human psyche

If you intend to integrate digital advertising and digital marketing to meet your business goals, it’s best to work with a friendly and performance-driven agency like Synergy XYZ.