What Is Advertising?


Our definition: The one-way communication of a persuasive message through specific media channels.

Official definition: Advertising is “the action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements” (Merriam-Webster).

Origins: The verb advertise comes from a Latin phrase that literally means “to turn toward.”

Advertising is not:

  • Popular. As this Google Trends graph shows, the use of the word "advertising" has been in steady decline over time as people have come to associate it with annoying interruptions rather than relevant information.
  • Marketing. Marketing is broader and more holistic than advertising, which falls under its umbrella. Advertisements announce a finished product or service to a target market in a persuasive way. Marketing helps shape the product before selling it, determines what market to target, and identifies what makes the product valuable to that market. Marketing is a cyclical process that involves two-way communication, while advertising is a time-bound, tactical tool.