(Marketing + Advertising) x Engagement = Strategy

Is what you're doing advertising or marketing -- and what's the difference, in this age of consumer control and hyper-speed multitasking?

Every few years I try to revisit the differences in the meanings behind advertising and marketing, and every few years I find the lines blurring and the definitions changing. I find, too, that the industry needs to be prodded to think about these two terms.

Advertising is defined as the opportunity to "announce or praise (a product, service, etc.) in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use it."

Marketing is defined as "the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling."

Based on these definitions, advertising is simply a subset of marketing, which is not a new idea. However, what is interesting to me is that advertising smells more and more like marketing every day, because marketing is more than broadcasting a message, it is the place where the true definition of "engagement" should lie -- but advertisers currently spend all of their time talking about and debating engagement.



I am not here to debate the merits or faults of the term "engagement," but I am here to highlight the obvious. Advertising is an opportunity to announce or introduce an item, product or service, which is what broadcast media has typically been utilized to do. What I want to point out, which is so obvious to so many people, is that the parameters for broadcast have changed. Broadcast is no longer a mass medium, it is becoming a niche medium, due to digital media. It is a vehicle for displaying content, in a video format, to an audience that is as targeted as possible. With the exception of the Super Bowl, which is the only remaining mass-media vehicle in broadcast media, the audience is comprised of smaller audiences for each show -- and each audience has its own needs, wants and desires.

No longer can you just announce anything and expect it to work. You can no longer approach your agency and ask them to put together a media plan or develop some creative to announce a product. You need a full strategy, and at the center of that strategy you need digital. As my friend Jim Nichols is likely to say, "Digital is the centerpiece for all strategy now and will continue to be even more important over the coming years." The reason is that digital media is the only element that can engage a consumer in more than just a broadcast manner, but digital media is as much a broadcast media as is anything else!

According to that definition of advertising above, announcing a product will induce people to buy or use it, but that is no longer the case. You cannot simply announce a product in a world where word of mouth for your product will fast outpace whatever marketing you attempt to launch. In the current landscape, marketing is a truer definition of everything that we do -- and you cannot launch marketing without a fully thought-out, well-defined strategy. In the late '90s, and early in 2000-2001, you could launch a product and the viral nature of the Web would create success, but in the current iteration of the world the attention of the consumer is splintered among too many opportunities. So a true strategy is required for successful launches and acquisition of customers.

I find it interesting that neither definition of advertising or marketing mentions anything about the word "strategy," but I think if the dictionary was going to redefine these terms in today's context, strategy would be the glue to a successful marketing effort, and advertising would incorporate some measure for engagement.

Don't you agree?

The last 2 paragraphs of yesterday's Spin were omitted by mistake. Check out the now-corrected article to get the full effect.

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