Advertising and publicity are two terms of marketing that people often get confused about while expressing them. Although both are interrelated as promotional tools used by businesses, they can be distinguished in broad ways.

Advertising involves a paid promotion of any entity for commercial purposes. It is a tool that depicts products with a positive influence. However, the latter is an unpaid promotion via a third party to create a buzz or reveal a public interest story.

Both advertisement and publicity have unique methods of brand promotion. Advertisement ensures the development of a brand, whereas publicity can have both positive and negative impacts on a brand’s image. Read further for a detailed discussion of the differences between advertising and publicity.

What is Advertising?

Advertising is a procedure followed with a motive to bring products, opinions, or causes to public attention to persuade the general public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised.

Generally, companies advertise their goods and products with the purpose to sell. Various traditional and digital channels enable businesses to advertise their products and services to the audience. Almost every company now prefers digital channels over traditional channels for advertisement. However, traditional channels like print, TV, and radio are still prevalent ways of advertising.

What is Publicity?

Publicity is an act of spreading information about businesses, services, products, or brands among the public through third-party media. It is useful to draw the attention of people and raise awareness about what is publicly visible with the help of broadcast media, print media, or social media.

The information about any entity is unbiased and can arise from any source. Consequently, publicity can have both positive and negative impacts on the perception of any information by the people.

What is the difference between advertising and publicity?


One of the most common goals of advertising is to boost sales and increase profits for a company.

On the other hand, informing people about a product, service, brand, or business is, in general, the goal of publicity.


Advertising has a positive impact as it is focused only on speaking goodness and spreading positivity about a product or service for commercial purposes.

Publicity, however, can have both positive and negative impacts as it can bring out the strengths and weaknesses of the products alike.

Target Audience

As advertising is more focused on selling products, the target audience is potential buyers and consumers.

Since publicity is more concerned with raising awareness, the target is the general public.


Advertising is a paid promotion and involves advertising expenses such as PPC, PPI, and display ads. To display ads marketers pay for ad space to advertisement companies.

Publicity, on the other hand, does not involve such kinds of expenses.


Companies have complete control over what is being advertised and make sure that it speaks goodness and spreads positivity about a product.

Publicity can be unbiased with no control over the message it will spread. It always speaks about reality and can project both good and bad facets of any piece of information.

Features of Advertising

  • From creating an advertisement to getting it published on a media platform to circulate, advertising is cost-prohibitive.
  • It is one-way communication and companies can advertise their products catering to their interests and desires.
  • Creative advertising is necessary to attract and engage target audiences to stimulate public interest in the advertised products.
  • Advertising is a marketing strategy that uses traditional and digital channels to reach an audience.

Features of Publicity

  • Publicity is a promotional activity that requires little or no expenses.
  • Publicity is necessary for establishing and maintaining strong business relationships.
  • Pieces of information about a business, product, or brand are circulated via third parties and are not in control of the company.


To conclude, advertising is about spreading awareness about any product, service, or brand that is driven by a motive to boost sales and increase profits. Publicity on the other hand is about spreading information with a motive to engage and attract an audience. Generally, people trust publicity more because of its impartial nature. It speaks about both the negative and positive aspects of a product. It can thus be inferred that both advertising and publicity play a significant role in the prosperity of a company.

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