The Shift From An Advertising World To A Marketing World

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When most people think of "marketing," they’re actually thinking of "advertising." That’s all going to change.

In the grand scheme of things, advertising is a segment of marketing. That’s the official structure of it all. That’s what they’ll teach you in any Marketing 101 course. Within the sphere of everything that is marketing, advertising has played such an important and large role, that many of us (and that includes the industry professionals) sometimes lose touch and forget about this. Advertising is so much bigger (and more prominent) than Marketing to the average consumer. Who could blame us? Through the power of Mass Media, advertising has become massive.

Advertising won’t die, but it is going to change dramatically.

If you look around at the general advertising stats (who is buying what, and how it is performing… including online advertising), the numbers are not as promising as they once were. It’s for this reason that many Marketers are looking to shift and adjust their advertising spend and that’s going to continue through 2010. There are many reasons, but here are the primary ones:

  • Media is moving away from being a passive channel to a highly active and creational one. You don’t watch just watch Facebook or YouTube… you create the experience.
  • Fragmentation. Even in the online channels, you can cater your content to your own very specific niche or area of interest. Many more choices and many more choices within those choices.
  • People will not tolerate being interrupted in terms of both the content they are creating/consuming and the platforms on which that content is delivered.
  • The conversations about brands are everywhere. They’re in text, images, audio and video and the conversations are not high-gloss editorials… they’re real human beings saying very real and human things all over the place.
  • We trust total strangers and their opinions online. This means that word of mouth (one of the more powerful sources of good referrals) changes dramatically.

2010 will be the year that we shift from the advertising age to the marketing age.

It’s not a prediction, hope or look forward. This is a shift that is happening right now, beneath our feet. Marketing is quickly becoming more important than advertising. It’s going to be interesting (like in a Jim Collins, Good To Great kind of way) to see which brands make this transition (and live to tell about it). Many smart brands have already started. They’re building community, conversations and opportunities to engage with their consumers. It may seem small when compared to the sheer impact of an advertising campaign, but they’re slowly (and properly) building that loyal following, or as Seth Godin would say: "drip, drip, drip…" The thing is that most businesses don’t have an established business model for how this plays out. How does the CMO tell the COO that they’re going to shift how they build the brand from an advertising-driven form to a marketing-driven one? That’s the tough question. It’s even tougher when you consider the very simplistic and raw answer of: "if we don’t change, we die," will probably make the c-suite roll their eyes and think of the boy who cried wolf.

Regardless, advertising’s role within the segment of marketing is diminishing.

Welcome to the Marketing World.


  1. There are proven marketing principles that don’t change regardless of platform or “era”. Segmentation is one that is more important than ever and more challenging. It’s one thing to identify the right segments, it’s another to engage in conversation with the right segment. Marketing organizations are ever more responsible for customer experience but don’t control all the customer touch points (e.g., sales, support, accounting, etc.). Organizations will need to reconsider their management structures to maximize customer experience. Marketers are also hungry for metrics that can show the correlation between social media and revenue and customer retention. I predict 2010 will see more organizations requiring those metrics as a prerequisite for any marketing expenditure. The other challenge for the Marketing World is trust/truth. Marketers are often viewed as “liars”. That won’t fly in a world where books such as “Trust Agents” hit the NY Times best seller list and customers rule. Marketers need to be truth tellers.

  2. I’m going to be the contrarian here and predict:
    – people are going to reject the ‘distraction’ model of conversation that has replaced advertising’s ‘interruption’ approach
    – consumers will start to realize that bloggers are no more honest or unbiased than reporters (actually, less so), and put less trust in the crowd as they learn how it can be manipulated
    – as such, organizations are going to lose patience with efforts to try and prove that conversations ‘pay’ independently of objective, measurable actions, and
    – much to the chagrin of the New Media Lobby, our clients are going to realize that there was never anything wrong with advertising channels, per se, but rather with the way we used them…and a new approach advertising is going to emerge as a voice of reason, authenticity, and utility (as in paid commercial speech telling truth)
    I suspect that 2010 will be spent figuring out what truisms have stayed the same for marketing vs. proposing radical new rules for how things have changed.

  3. Very cool. I’ve noticed this tendency for awhile — that marketing to most people means advertising. But it’s never meant that to me. It’s always meant storytelling or building trust or communicating an important vision. Never interruption or just plain ol’ advertising, though. Excited about about the shift.

  4. The biggest challenge for new marketers, particularly small businesses and self employed professionals like photographers, will be figuring out where to even begin…they are in this strange gray area where they are being told not to bother even learning how to use traditional marketing anymore, but not yet given a clear roadmap for how to use all these great new technologies.

  5. As a copywriter, I’ve seen plenty of conflict between Advertising and Marketing. Over the past few years I’ve noticed many of the smart Advertisers fighting for control of responsibilities that traditionally belong to Marketing. To me, that’s an indication that to remain truly relevant in your communication today, you have to form an overarching strategy that includes both disciplines.
    Supposedly that’s how the model is arranged now, but the truth is that Advertising and Marketing don’t work together as much as they work simultaneously.
    Looking ahead, I think we’ll start to see less of a distinction between the two. Those who learn how to blend the two disciplines will ultimately move forward while the current practice of keeping two distinct departments will die out.

  6. 2010 technology and social media predictions meta list.
    Every year around this time one can find many predictions about the new year in terms of tech & social media trends. So in order to get an overview myself, I have started this post with a collection and summary of the various predictions I could fi…

  7. Very succint and right on the money Mitch. Good stuff. Very much looking forward to 2010 and beyond. As you have for sometime now. . . keep the good stuff rollin’!

  8. Coming from biological science field, am just starting to understand Marketing. As you said Advertising is a segment of Marketing. If “advertising’s role within the segment of marketing is diminishing”, then I assume other segments’ role is increasing. May I know what are those other segments?
    Can you please help me, a beginner, understand how can there be a shifting “from an advertising world to a marketing world” when advertising remains to be a segment of marketing? Won’t it be shifting from advertising to another segment of marketing (whatever that is)?
    Thanks so much Mitch for your help.

  9. I think people in advertising have already started moving to higher ground i.e. Marketing and getting prepared to get into the complete ‘discussion’ mode with the consumer. what is coming out are some intelligent campaigns which start off with advertising which are the initiators for conversations and engagement with the prospects or ‘prosumers’ as i would say and which helps the brand immesely. however, the initating point will always be advertising. why would i want to talk about a brand if i dont even know it or have heard about it. Therefore, i think advertising still has its place in the sun and will will be a facilitator for a brand to move into the consumer space.

  10. I too noticed this trend for awhile–marketing most people advertising methods. But it doesn’t mean me. And I mean always, cutting, or build confidence or communicate important vision. Stopped completely or just plain ol’ advertising, though. Are enthusiastic about this transition.

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