Advertising, in its simplest form, is a paid-for, non- personal form of promoting a product or a service. There could be multiple media vehicles chosen to deliver this communication to the target customer. Some of the more popular media used for advertising are Print – Newspapers, Magazines, Television, Traditional (Bill Boards, Hoardings, Standees, Banners etc), Digital (Online, Apps based) etc. The message delivered though is targeted at a particular segment of customers/users, advertising is generally considered a mass communication method, wherein a single message reaches multiple people. The scope of advertising is generally one directional – from the service provider to the consumer. The consumer in such a scenario takes some time to respond to the communication as the product or service advertised may not be readily available to the customer. But such traditional form of advertising is rapidly being replaced by the more interactive and directed form of communication. The digital advertising medium is not only more targeted to the specific segment of the customer, but also by its nature is accompanied by a call to action. The customer in such a form of advertising has immediate access to the product or service that is being advertised. The skill involved in advertising is to make the communication stand out in the market place amongst a host of other messages from advertisers talking about a similar product or service. Creativity plays a major role here, in creating a recall in the minds of the consumer. A well-conceived and crafted communication cuts through the cluster and reaches the intended customer successfully.
Promotion, one of the four P’s of the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) is a key element that consists of communication tactics that can be used to inform consumers, create demand and differentiate brands. A typical promotion plan identifies how advertising, personal selling, PR, sales and direct marketing tactics can be used to support sales and branding objectives. There are multiple formats in which a promotional event can be organized. Events, sponsorships, contests, coupons, rebates/discounted sales, Celebrity endorsements direct mailers etc. are used for promoting a brand a service or a product.
Thus, promotional activities are dynamic in nature wherein new offers and promos are launched at any desired frequency to push a product, a brand or a service. Advertisements, on the other hand are static in nature. A communication sent out to the target base, through an advertisement, is usually given a certain amount of gestation time, for the customer to absorb the information and react.
On the cost factor, the expense associated with an Advertisement campaign could run very high depending upon the media chosen for communication. Overall, advertisement expense forms a significant part of the marketing budget. Promotions, on the other hand could be quiet inexpensive if it involves sponsorships and discounts on one’s own product line.
Typically large budget advertisement campaigns are suitable for established brands or large corporates/organizations. Promotions on the other hand could be run by a company of any size. Depending upon the payout involved interesting promotional campaigns can be designed to grab the buyer’s attention.
While an advertisement could lead to a sale, a promotional campaign is directly related to a sale, thus the return on investment can be more clearly calculated for a promotional campaign as compared to an advertisement campaign.
Thus from the definitions and the method of working illustrated above, we can conclude that both Advertisement and Promotions are used by an organization to inform the customer about the organization’s offering and value propositions. While a promotional activity immediately translates into sales, an advertisement takes some time to bring in the desired results.