Difference Between Advertising and Promotion

Advertising and promotion are two key pillars in the marketing world. Both are the marketing strategies and are necessary for any organization to remain in the market for a long time.

Even though both of them look identical, but there is a significant difference between advertising and promotion.

While I am pretty sure that most of you have a bit of information about Advertising but not many of you will be aware of what promotion is all about.

Advertising vs Promotion

The main difference between Advertising and Promotion is that advertising generally refers to sending out controlled messages by paying to the media, while promotion can include both paid and free marketing activities. Advertising is applicable to all medium to a large organization whose primary objective is to build the brand image.

Advertising vs Promotion

Promotion is about mentioning your new product, brand, etc. through free and paid marketing activities.

In case, if your organization is involved in small businesses, the promotion seems to be an ideal choice and cost-efficient one for an increase in sales.

In this guide, we are covering all the essential details for you to understand the difference between Advertising and Promotion


Comparison Table Between Advertising and Promotion (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonAdvertisingPromotion
DefinitionAdvertising is defined as a one way controlled communication and is paid to media in order to build a brand image for potential customers.Promotion involves mentioning the brand or new product launch, through both paid and free marketing activities.
ParticipantsMedium or large sized companies.Small-sized companies
ObjectiveBrand Building, Brand Switching, Brand Recall, etc.Rewarding Loyal customers, Increasing Sales of Organization, To attract potential customers by schemes, Increasing the Repurchases.
NatureAdvertising often portrays emotional appeal. Mostly advertisements are created so as to create a brand image in the mind of customersPromotions don’t portray any emotional appeal, these are usually done to change the rational thinking of customers for eg giving discount coupons on a product can make the customer buy that because of less price
End ResultEffect of advertising takes time, hence end result is slowAs compared to advertising, the end result is achieved very fast
CostAlmost in every case, This is ExpensiveNot much expensive as Advertising


What is Advertising?

Advertising is defined as a one way controlled communication and the relevant cost is paid to the media in order to build a brand image for potential customers.

Since being a little costly, it is most commonly being used by medium to large-sized firms in order to meet the objective of building a positive brand image and an increase in sales.

However, small firms can also find some smart ways to advertise by paying a relatively lesser amount with the help of digital marketing. It is thought that by paying for advertisements, the Organization will see an increase in sales, but it takes longer to achieve those sales results.

Thus they should be well aware of the following objectives of advertising;

  1. What is the trial period for advertising?
  2. What should be the continuity duration of the advertisement?
  3. Can advertising aid to Brand Switching?
  4. Can advertising lead to Brand Recall?

The various advertising options that the organization can choose from are;

  1. Above the line advertising (ATL)
  2. Below the line advertising (BTL)
  3. Through the line advertising (TTL)

Also, it is our duty to make you understand that the above advertising options are taken by organizations based on the level of awareness and penetration.

Therefore, it is equally important to also know, to carry out any advertising activity using different types of advertising medium.

Thus, it is required to understand that advertisement is a marketing strategy used by several firms in order to build brand image and positioning the brand in the minds of customers.


What is Promotion?

Promotion involves mentioning the brand or new product launch, through both paid and free marketing activities

In promotion, the organization influences the customer to purchase the new products or services launched or can contribute to brand switching as well.

In order to increase sales, Organizations gives special offers, discounts, or gifts to their customers. All these are part of the promotions.

The best part about promotions is that it increases sales i.e. by providing 50% off on Shirts in a Garment store, the Store manager can see the surge in sales which couldn’t have been possible without Promotion

The various types of promotions that the organization uses are;

  1. Sales Promotion
  2. Trade Promotion
  3. Personal Selling
  4. Public Relations etc.

As per the requirement or in terms of achieving specific objectives, the Marketing team of any organization can choose from the above-mentioned promotion techniques as per their convenience.

Thus, organizations should comprehend who their target customers are, and how to best reach them. A different set of customers may respond well to different promotions.

Hence selecting which promotion to be used is solely based on management’s decision.


Main Differences Between Advertising and Promotion

Although both these marketing strategies are beneficial for the organization in order to meet their objectives, there exists a lot of differences between Advertising and Promotion when it comes to sales, outreach and brand development.

  1. The promotion offers fast results like an increase in sales, brand switching, etc. and advertising just offers brand development, although it impacts sales, but is slower when compared to Promotion.
  2. Promotion is relatively less costly when compared to Advertising.
  3. Advertising doesn’t directly lead to sales, but Promotions have a direct impact on sales conversion.
  4. Advertising approach is always unique to a product or service, whereas Promotion is not unique, It can be for multiple products or services.
Difference Between Advertising and Promotion



It doesn’t matter which marketing strategy you choose; what matters is that you know who the target audience is, and how deep the penetration should is required in terms of reach.

It is really critical to have an idea of all the expenses and costs that are involved in picking either of them.

Thus, it’s important for the marketing team of the organization to chart down the necessary objectives and be SMART in picking up the right marketing strategy.

But all in all both Advertising and Promotion help the organization meet its objectives effectively.

Key Differences Between Advertising and Promotion (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Advertising and Promotion



  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1987-97569-000
  2. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/10106591
  3. https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mksc.18.1.1
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Betsey Thyer
Betsey Thyer

So I have a question. If I post on other websites and ask people to come and visit my online business, then it is not advertising right?

Piyush Yadav
Piyush Yadav
Reply to  Betsey Thyer

Yes, you are right. Advertising is attached with some form of payment in exchange of promotion as in TV, Radio or Pay per click ads.