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The blurred lines between online marketing and advertising

Although online marketing is a bigger umbrella in which you find online advertising, the two should not be confused as one.

Sure, plenty of companies may not hesitate to action anything that promises to cut costs and increase return on investment, however, before we dilute professional practices perhaps we should refresh ourselves on their sole purpose and difference and ask ourselves what consequence and loss we may inherit if we merge them as one. I suspect to mix online marketing and advertising as the same thing may eradicate their greater good as separate professions.

The blurred lines between online marketing and advertising
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I cannot deny that the two have some common persuasions. The lifespan of brands desperately rely on the success of both marketing and advertising to stay relevant and in competition. Both functions, when well executed do wonders for the success of a brand. I could go on but you most probably already know all of this.

What concerns me is the blurred line between digital marketing and digital advertising, and sure, I cannot be too quick to point out errors because we are fairly new in the digital practice, but some poor judgements can cost a brand greatly and we don't want that. The internet of things is rapidly taking over, so naturally online marketing and online advertising are becoming popular too, and that is all well and fine, but what are we not doing right? To draw closer to the answer we need to look at how the internet is used for both functions.

The difference between online marketing and online advertising

Online marketing makes use of various online functions such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Online Referral Marketing. On the other hand, online advertising is what comes with the online marketing functions, as an example, like the ads you may find attached to an email marketing letter. Online advertising makes use of functions like native advertising which is a subtle but a highly effective way to promote a brand.

These are adverts you see on multiple sites, they appear less intrusive because they are not in your face but more tucked away making them seem like part of the content on the site. Consciously you may not pay too much attention to these ads, but the subconscious always makes a note of them. The advantage of this is that the adverts are stored in your long term memory. Other online advertising ways include banner ads, search engine results pages and blogs.

The cost of online marketing and that of online advertising

Yes the two costs vary, in fact online marketing, although a much bigger concept than online advertising, cost next to none in comparison with online advertising. To execute online marketing functions the use of owned and earned media are preferred and favoured over paid media which is highly used for online advertising.

While placing an ad on some sites is expensive there are reasonable methods like cost per mile, cost per visitor, cost per conversion, cost per click, and fixed cost, all of these are options to make online advertising more affordable and for faster ROI, thus, to be more possible with online advertising.

Long term based and short term based ROI

One might see an advert online, recognise the same advert on another site and immediately respond to it, which is why you want to place your ad on as many relevant sites as possible. The ad has to be catchy and attractive, content is not a primary concern but enough important highlights will do. With online marketing, focusing on your content will prove to be advantageous. Many companies usually start their own blogs and there, they market their brands. Another notable difference between online advertising and marketing.

In conclusion

Online marketing and online advertising have either been mistaken as one of the same thing or we simply don't comprehend the different digital functions to separate them accordingly. While the two compliment one another very well the two are not identical and should not be regarded as such.

Online advertising must be utilised beyond a company's online marketing means to reach a maximum return. While owned and earned media are generally used for online marketing, money has to be spent on online advertising. Sure, a company can place their own ads on their site but for a wider reach, looking into advertising on other companies sites and blogs is highly advised.

Don't make the mistake of doing the same thing with each function. Understanding how to approach online marketing and online advertising is key. Strategy is everything. The sooner you conclude how you are going to market and advertise your brands, the clearer the blurred lines become.

About Kamogelo Modise

Kamogelo Modise is a Communication Practitioner with a Media Studies Diploma from Boston Media House, majoring in Strategic Public Relations. She has worked for various Communications Companies and has written for multiple online and offline publications. She can be found by email on Rachelmodise[at]

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