Advertising, Today
Words by Joshua Christian Tjandra

My friend, a product owner from some e-commerce company, asked me a question that Saturday. “What is the difference between marketing and advertising?”

Now, let me try to answer that without even quoting any scholarly statement containing description for either of which. To my understanding (also to a collective understanding from most of practitioners, I believe), the difference between marketing and advertising is the benefits they can offer. Marketing’s purpose is clearly to generate sales…directly. Advertising is more like a combination between marketing and PR, acquiring direct sales as well as retaining public relation in the end. Some people would deploy the term of “saleability”, a quality that will increase the chance of your salesmen gaining sales.

If I’m allowed, lemme put it like this...

Marketing: a person shouting, "Telur asin, telur asin," in the middle of a traffic non-fruity jam. Advertising: a person wearing a plaid shirt, his hand up in the air, making V sign; beside him a signage reads, "Telur asin untuk nomor 2. Dijamin tak mengapung." 

(Sorry for these Indonesian references...I just can’t help it.)

Then the next question arises: how do we measure advertising methods so that we can satisfy all of those data-driven maniacs and to relate advertising to sales at all?

How do we understand advertising in this era?

Rational proposition, emotional persuasion, and a means of publication. Advertising always revolves around those 3 approaches.

And today comes the time of social media, digital media, and all other fast-forwarding information technology. With these new stuffs banging on our door every morning, people’s behaviour in media consumption is jumping quickly from one viral trend to another...

But in the end, people are now becoming believers in the way of native content, content that they can enjoy just like enjoying the nature of the platform. Branded content, as a form of modern advertising, is about creating that native content. And it is about entertaining people, no matter we give reason to believe or subsconscious association to the product we sell.

This furthermore approves the phycological research done by Watzlawick, stating that “communication is an ever present feature of human interaction.” Advertisers translate this research to a notion that advertising is only made to keep the relationship between the brand and the customer.

If we understand this fully, we will see why creative agencies are becoming more like curators of artists instead of strategic marketers. Stories and enhancing visuals are the best keepers of relationship between a brand and its customers.

If we understand this fully, none of these statements are against John E. Kennedy, who said that advertising should be “result-driven” (“data-driven”, today). It is true that stories and visuals, being the deliverables, are not to be measured in any way; nonetheless, market behaviour is measurable. The surveys are measurable. The social actions are measurable. The sales are measurable.

If we understand this fully, we will once again have the faith…that a creative department is as important as the media planner, and at least as half of your marketing budget.