Saturday, March 23, 2013

Promotional Content and Advertising

What's the difference between advertising and promotion?

In a recent MediaPost article describing the rise of Digital Promotion spending there was a distinction made between advertising and promotions. 
According to Borrell Associates, the study defines promotions as messages or offers generated and broadcast directly by the market. Advertising, meanwhile, involves messages sent through intermediaries.
And it goes on to talk about the blurring of those distinctions online in an increasingly mobile world.

In my mind there are really two different dimensions being discussed.  On the one hand is the distribution mechanism or how the message gets to an interaction or touch point.   Advertising is the paid placement of a message and that can happen in any number or channels or means.   On the other hand we have the intent of the content; in this case we're talking about incenting a transaction since that is the common use of promotions.  There are other types of content that serve other purposes, e.g. branding or informing. 
It is not a question of one or the other, but rather what and how.

The more interesting question becomes:  Does the rise of promotional content, at the expense of other forms, hurt or help over the long term?

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