In my day-to-day life, when I tell people I work in Digital Marketing it feels like the response I get most frequently is, “So what, do you do ads then?” While it is true that digital advertising is an important part of digital marketing – it is far from the only aspect of digital marketing.

Basically, digital marketing is the holistic strategy your brand takes for all of its marketing efforts on the internet. Digital marketing is about the process of identifying customer needs and determining how to best meet those needs through a variety of tactics in your digital marketing tool belt. Digital advertising is just one of those tactics.

What is digital marketing?

As defined by HubSpot, Digital marketing, also called online marketing, refers to all marketing efforts that occur on the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers. This also includes communication through text or multimedia messages. As you can see, the scope of digital marketing is extremely broad. Each tactic within digital marketing has its own strengths and ways to be applied most effectively.

Popular and Effective Forms of Digital Marketing


SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results. Basically, SEO determines how high you appear in search engine result pages (SERP) like Google or Bing (excluding the paid ad search results).

Organic search is the most prominent way for people to discover and access online content – this makes a good SEO strategy essential for improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your website.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the use of software to automate actions such as sending emails, updating lead statuses and lifecycle stages, sending internal notifications, creating sales deals, and more. It doesn’t just improve efficiency, but can also provide a more personalized experience for customers.

Marketing automation tools are essential to creating a streamlined digital marketing process. Without tools like email scheduling, consistently sending marketing content to your customers is cumbersome and time consuming.

Web Design

If your business plans on attracting customers to your website, you need to have a website that matches the professional expectations of your customer. One of the fastest ways to lose a sale on the web is having a website that is frustrating and difficult to navigate.

Instead, with proper care and attention, your website could be helpful to the digital marketing efforts of your business. Create visually appealing, intuitive content that guides the user to what they’re looking for and you’ll be much more likely to convert a user than on a website that appears unprofessional and clunky.

Digital Advertising

And yes, digital advertising is a subset of digital marketing! Digital advertising is the process of publishing promotional material through online platforms such as social media, search engines, websites, and any other program that can be accessed digitally. Consumers are spending the majority of their time on the Internet, so digital advertising helps you take your business directly to where your audience is.

Types of Digital Advertising

The main purpose of display advertising is to generate early brand awareness and set up customers for a deeper conversation later. Display advertising is also effective at creating impressions at a low cost.

Digital Marketing vs Advertising Google Ads

You are almost certainly familiar with display ads, even if you aren’t familiar with them by name. Display ads appear on third-party websites and feature video, image, or text elements. Think of the ads you see on the edge of web pages all over the internet, these are banner ads. Banner ads are the most ubiquitous form of display advertising. This is a popular option because of how easy they are to set up using tools like Google Display Network or Facebook Ads.

Native Advertising

The main purpose of native advertising is to blend advertising content with regular content on a website. Native advertising is effective at creating high click-through rates and conversion rates.

Native advertising is often the most controversial form of digital advertising. It is all about putting your paid content on another website in a way where it mostly blends in seamlessly with the rest of the content on the website. This can include everything from articles, infographics, videos, and more. Native advertising comes in a variety of forms and often overlaps with other forms of digital advertising, paid search ads and social media ads are examples of native ads.

Paid Search Advertising

The main purpose of paid search advertising is to include your ads in search engine results pages alongside organic google results. PPC ads can be costly but are good for driving high click-through rates with the right keywords.

Digital Marketing Advertising

Paid search ads are the prioritized search results that appear on a search engine results page (SERP). Since these are a form of pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you should only run a paid search campaign if your marketing team plans on closely following the ROI returning from this campaign to ensure it’s actually worth your dollars. Paid search campaigns can often be among the most expensive to run if they aren’t done right.


The main purpose of re-marketing is to reinforce your brand messaging to potential customers who have already visited your website. This tactic is considered to be highly cost-efficient and effective when you’re able to generate a re-marketing lead.

Sometimes referred to as retargeting, Google re-marketing is a tool that allows your Google Ads to follow customers as they browse the internet. By adding a small snippet of code to your website, you can start creating a re-marketing list of every customer who visits your website. Customers who have visited your website and have been added to your re-marketing list will now receive your re-targeting ads within the Google Ad network. These tools also allow further customization of who receives your ads like prioritizing new or returning customers. You will also be receiving extremely valuable data if you include tracking codes about your current visitors and who you should be placing your marketing efforts on in the future.

Social Media Advertising

Social media ads are somewhat self-explanatory, they are the ads that appear in social media channels. One of the main appeals of social media ads is the variety of design options you can choose from for your ads.

The simplest form of social media advertising is photo or video ad. When advertising on social media, make sure to keep your messaging concise. People’s attention spans on social media for ads run short quickly so keep videos under 15 seconds and pair photos with only a sentence or two.

Differences between digital marketing and digital advertising

To reiterate, digital advertising is a subset of digital marketing and one of the many aspects that go into a cohesive digital marketing strategy. A large distinction between some of the other elements of digital marketing vs digital advertising is digital ads will always be a paid service while tactics like SEO, a good web design, or social media marketing are free assuming you have someone in-house who has the necessary skills. Digital ads are only present for a fleeting moment to the buyer and are a continuous cost.

This is not to say that digital ads are not an important and effective part of a strong digital marketing strategy. Digital ads are important for building brand awareness and establishing touchpoints with the customer. That being said, thinking digital ads are inherently the most important thing to a digital marketing campaign is far from the truth. Since digital ads come at a considerable cost, they should actually be used more judiciously and sparingly than other tactics.

Get Started with Digital Marketing

There’s a lot that goes into making a digital marketing plan. Luckily, that’s our specialty at MINDSCAPE. We know exactly when and where to use the right tactics.

Yeah, we do that.