Advertising vs. Marketing: The Major Dilemma

Drag to rearrange sections
Rich Text Content


Written by Michael Del GiganteLinks to an external site.

Advertising and marketing are inextricably linked and likely to become even more so with the increasingly congested brand landscape that’s giving consumers more control over how they engage with companies and the type of content they see.

If you’re unclear about the differences between the two majors or aren’t sure which one would give you the best opportunities for career growth, earning potential, and personal fulfillment, take a look at the following overview of the overlaps and distinctions between the two disciplines, brought to you by the advertising and marketing experts at MDG Advertising.


What’s the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing?

Marketing is the overall process of selling services or products to the consumer. Steps in the marketing process include market research, product development, distribution and sales strategies, advertising, and public relations.

Advertising involves making consumers aware of a product or service and is a specific step in the marketing process.


Core Coursework for Each Major

For an advertising major, required classes will likely include courses in business, marketing, writing, social science, and math. Your program may also include required or elective coursework in:

  • Audience analysis
  • Consumer behavior
  • Brand strategy
  • Advertising principles
  • Marketing principles
  • Content creation
  • Sociology and/or psychology
  • Statistics and/or economics


Some advertising programs allow students to concentrate or double major in art direction, public relations, or account management.

Art direction focuses on digital design, portfolio development, and visual communication.

Students focusing on public relations will take additional courses in strategic communications, copywriting, interactive design, and preparing press releases.

An account management concentration emphasizes advertising and public relations research techniques, advertising management, promotions and sponsorships, account planning, and creating an integrated branding strategy.

After completing their studies, advertising majors typically receive a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree.

Marketing majors typically fall under the umbrella of bachelor of business administration or bachelor of science in marketing. Most marketing programs require students to complete an internship, as well as courses in:


  • Sales management
  • Marketing strategies
  • Marketing research
  • Personal selling
  • Advertising and promotion management
  • International marketing
  • Retail and web-based marketing


Some marketing programs allow students to concentrate on specific areas of the marketing field, including marketing management, sales,finance and accounting, and supply chain management.

Based on the area of focus, students choosing a degree concentration can expect additional required or elective coursework, ranging from new product development and logistics, to economics and principles of investing.


Opportunities for Advanced Degrees

If you’re interested in pursuing an advanced degree, both advertising and marketing have graduate degree options. A master of science in advertising program usually allows students to focus on advertising research or advertising management, and includes classes in public relations research, marketing management, advertising and promotion management, consumer behavior, and advertising and society.

Most schools offering a path to a master of business administration degree allow students to specialize in marketing management by taking courses in buyer behavior, promotion management, market research, international marketing, and strategy and planning, in addition to the normal MBA courses.



Employment and Income Outlook

At the end of the day, your choice of major will likely be determined by the one that will provide you with the best prospects for finding a job with a decent salary and opportunities for advancement.However, you shouldn't overlook personal happiness, as well as the diversity of roles within the profession.

In terms of immediate job prospects and income potential, advertising majors typically have the advantage. There will always be the need for entry-level salespeople, and employers often prefer the more narrowly focused advertising major over the more generalized marketing major for these positions. The advertising field also offers more opportunity for lateral moves into other sectors of the field, such as a director of commercials, for example.

Even with just a few years of experience, the earning potential for an advertising major typically outpaces that of a marketing major.

Marketing majors, on the other hand, may have the upper hand in terms of career flexibility. Because of the broader focus, marketing majors can find jobs in the arts, education, various industries, and the nonprofit sector, which can make it easier to find employment that’s both fun and fulfilling.

Regardless of your major, you should make sure that your studies provide you with a balanced course load that gives you an understanding of both advertising and marketing, the challenges that businesses face on both fronts, and how to use your creativity to drive brand recognition and growth.


About Michael Del Gigante, CEO of MDG Advertising

In 1999, CEO Michael Del Gigante founded MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agencyLinks to an external site. with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Brooklyn, New York. With his unique insight and decades of industry experience, he turned what was once a traditional ad agency into an integrated branding firm based on an innovative 360-degree marketing philosophy that provides a full spectrum of traditional and digital advertising services.


Drag to rearrange sections
Rich Text Content

Page Comments