Online Marketing & Advertising: What’s the Difference?

The lines between marketing and advertising have blurred. What used to be considered ‘traditional’ marketing has become a subset of ‘digital marketing’, and vice versa. This article will explore the differences between traditional offline and online marketing, and help you determine where you fit in.

Traditional Offline vs. Online Marketing

Traditional offline marketing is, as the name suggests, all about marketing products and/or services in a print and/or online medium. This includes billboards, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and radio and TV jingles. In contrast, online marketing focuses on creating awareness of a brand or product online. This can include blog articles, social media posts, and web content (including videos).

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already familiar with the basics of online marketing and advertising. However, to ensure you retain even the most superficial knowledge, here’s a quick refresher.

The Evolution Of Online Marketing & Advertising

Traditional offline marketing has always been about reaching as many people as possible, so businesses could get their product or service to as many people as possible. This meant ads had to be eye-catching, memorable, and, above all, entertaining. In fact, some ads back in the day were so successful they became famous for what they advertised. One example is the Budweiser Clydesdale horse. The jingle for this beer became so popular that people began to sing it and whistle it at the top of their lungs. So much so that when they started playing it on the radio, they became an instant hit. Other famous examples of traditional advertising include the ‘Bud Light’ frog and the ‘Don’t Drink and Play’ t-shirt from Under Armour.

In the early days of the Internet, marketers found it relatively easy to reach people. After all, all they had to do was type in the address of the website they wanted to visit into their web browser. While this may have seemed like an easy task, it had a number of hidden complexities. First, not every person uses a web browser, so they would have to find the address manually. Second, even when people use a web browser, they may not always have one open, so their web address might not be readily available. Third, people often browse the Internet in incognito mode, which hides their identity. This makes it easier for marketers to keep track of potential customers, but also makes it more difficult for them to find the addresses of those websites.

To solve these problems, search engines adapted to handle instant, automated searches. This meant businesses could enter a few keywords and get a list of websites ‘close’ to what they were looking for. While this was a great convenience for businesses, it also created a need for a more sophisticated form of marketing. This is where online marketing and advertising came in.

The Demographics Of Online Buyers & Readers

The demographics of online buyers and readers are shifting, changing the dynamic of digital marketing and advertising. In the past, online buyers were primarily made up of digital native Gen Z and millennials, who grew up with smartphones in their hands and social media in their lives.

However, recent statistics show that while millennials still make up the largest portion of the online audience, Gen Z and millennials are now following suit and buying and reading offline publications. Why? Because, well, they can. And what’s more, they enjoy doing it. According to HubSpot Blogs research, 78% of millennials and Gen Z buy magazines and newspapers for entertainment, 17% do it for informative purposes, and only 6% want to read them for news.

This is a big change from what used to be considered ‘traditional’ demographics, which were primarily made up of boomers and older generations. Now, with these younger demographics leading the way, marketers need to adapt and change how they approach their target audience.

Marketing Mix

Just as there are various ways to market a product or service, there’s also a variety of platforms and tools that marketers use. Depending on your objectives and the type of content you’re creating, you might find yourself using one tool over another.

The four basic pillars of marketing are:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotions

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to find the best one for your business.