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The importance of differentiating online marketing from advertising

Online marketing and online advertising are often confused with one another.
Online marketing and online advertising are often confused with one another.
Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

Because online marketing falls under the broader scope of online advertising, the two are often confused with one another. However, neglecting to differentiate between the two may dilute the effectiveness of each practice, and reduce the value that they can impart on a particular brand or marketing strategy.

Admittedly, online marketing and online advertising often encompass similar methods and approaches. They are both routinely used for the purpose of maintaining the relevance and competitiveness of a particular brand. When implemented properly, they can greatly improve the visibility of a brand, enhance its market reputation, and prolong its lifespan.

The primary risk in blurring the lines between online marketing and online advertising is the dilution of both approaches. When implemented as part of a singular approach, these two methods can actually be detrimental to a brand and reduce the benefits it can gain from both. Conversely, treating each as distinct approaches helps enhance their effectiveness in terms of making a brand more visible or enhancing its reputation.

Characteristic differences between online marketing and online advertising
Online marketing and online advertising have a number of techniques and methodologies that make them distinct from one another. Online marketing utilizes a number of specific processes and procedures such as:

• Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
• Email marketing
• Content marketing
• Online referral marketing

On the other hand, online advertising involves the use of marketing vehicles and methods such as the ads accompanying email marketing letters. More subtle methods such as native advertising are also utilized to great effect.

Some of the more commonly utilized online advertising vehicles include:

• Banner ads
• Search engine results pages
• Blogs

Online advertising also often utilizes subtle ads that seem part of the site’s content rather than overt or obvious marketing vehicles. In some cases, these types of ads tend to be more effective than traditional advertising because the message is retained subliminally rather than being rejected outright.

Cost of online marketing and that of online advertising

In terms of costs, the two approaches vary considerably as well. In most cases, online marketing costs much less to implement than online advertising. Although online marketing is often a deeper and wider ranging process than the advertising, its budget is often dwarfed by the huge budgets typically earmarked for online advertising. This is because online marketing generally relies on the use of owned and earned media in preference to paid media commonly used for online advertising.

Differences in ROI
One other area in which online marketing and online advertising differ is in the projected return on investment (ROI). Online advertising may continue to generate results long after its first appearance, but this is dependent on the appeal of the particular ad, which should ideally be as catchy and attractive as possible. For most such ads, the content is not as important as its impact and visual appearance.

With online marketing on the other hand, there is frequently a need to vary the approach in order to keep producing results. Content is also usually a more important factor in online marketing than online advertising.

The bottom line
Despite their similarities–and the similarities are indeed considerable–online marketing and online advertising are distinct approaches that should be treated as separate entities. Although online marketing can be considered a part of the larger umbrella of online advertising, each should be implemented with a clear perception of their relative strengths. Doing so will help ensure the potential benefits that can be gained from implementing both approaches.