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August 25, 2011


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Steve Johnson

"Marketing" is a word that has so many meanings that I'm inclined to stop using the word entirely. In my last firm, I renamed "Marketing" to "Communications" and it brought a lot of clarity. We were NOT an advertising group.

Josh Duncan


Couldn't agree more. Thanks for taking the charge and not letting this one slip by. I am a fan of Forrester and their research but from a thought leader firm, this misuse of the definition is unacceptable!





Appreciate the post. Couple questions though, What role does advertising play in light of what companies can now do on their own with web marketing? Does it still have a place?


Bobby Burns


I wholly agree with you and I love the use of "I violently disagree"! :)

At E-Myth Worldwide we have a somewhat narrow and specific definition that we use for Marketing: "The research and analysis of your customers that identifies who they are, where they are, and why they buy from you." This is to distinguish marketing from advertising, or lead generation.

Thank you for the great post.


David Meerman Scott

Thanks for the comments. This issue obviously ignites passions.

Dtippetts -- whenever there is a new way to communicate it does not mean that others go away. TV did not kill radio. Search did not kill the Yellow Pages. Advertising still has a place. But as I said in my post, advertising is not the same as marketing.


Spotty, I grew up at the world's largest marketing communications company and now have possibly the smallest "ad agency and marketing consulting practice". Trouble is, I don't know what an ad agency is anymore. Spent the last two weeks setting up events that will create positive buzz, lots of social meeting activity, good ink, prospect involvement in the product and eventually more "sales". I might make a radio spot or do some collateral or mail...and yet I still call myself an agency. And oh, I am also working with like minded partner companies on a co-op for the events. So what do I put on my business card/ Right now, it says' Life is too short to make bad ads".


I have never been a big fan of Forrester. I'm the human being I know who thought the book Groundswell was a self-serving, 286 page commercial for their services. While it had some great case studies, I've always thought that their whole social technographics concept was a way to create a solution that can only be solved through market research.


Well said, David. And, Steve, I think it's safe to say that words not only "fail" they "destroy"! Whether inside my firm or with clients, the various definitions of "marketing," "advertising," etc. can actually create issues and unnecessary (definitely unintended) challenges. That Forrester contributes, unintentionally, makes it worse in places we can't control.


David Meerman Scott

@Jon & @John - A decade ago I was a Forrester client and some of the research was very helpful. But I do think that they need to re-think some of the things they are doing.

@Mason - I faced the same issue when I started my business 9 years ago. I have printed and thrown away at least ten versions of business cards. I do like your 'Life is too short to make bad ads" - but what you do is much more than advertising in my opinion. My current card reads:
David Meerman Scott
Marketing Strategist
Freshspot Marketing LLC

David Sandusky

I think good CMOs are not confused by Marketing; advertising, brand. There are...some.

David Meerman Scott

@David - in my experience working with many CMOs all over the world there is still a great deal of confusion among those who came up prior to 1995 (at the dawn of the Web).


Could agree with you more - and have been for more than 30 years but there are just so many that add to the confusion.

For example, I came across this November post from Fred Wilson just this morning (thanks to LinkedIn News) http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2011/02/marketing.html. Love the comments this post stirred up!

CW LaFontaine

I wish, in this world of live, interactive, two-way marketing that we stop confusing it with advertising.

Secondly, marketing has become more about the people and communication than ever before. Ads can still have an effect on raising awareness but the marketing is ultimately what garners the customer interest and later sale.

Trust and transparency is what it is all about these days.

David Meerman Scott

@Pat - Fred's post has more than 500 comments. Stirred up indeed.

@CW -Yes!


... And Marketing isn't Networking... Good points, thanks for sharing! It's refreshing to see your (our) opinion gain traction!

Jeff Ogden

Amen, David. Advertising (shouting at people) is certainly not Marketing (gently earning trust) Forrester should know better.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
Find New Customers

Shar VanBoskirk

Hi David -- Shar VanBoskirk from Forrester here. Thanks for your comments on the report and your tweet yesterday. I agree that advertising and marketing are not the same thing. So let me provide a bit of background on this research to see if it addresses your concerns.

I've worked on this report since 2004, and the report originally began as an online *advertising* forecast -- sizing spend on online media, which at that time was primarily display ads. We've done the report 5 times since 2004 and with each new report it became clear that budgets were growing to include other investments besides online media. So we have adjusted the forecast to best represent what is included in clients' interactive budgets.

Now, a few points here: we can only size what we can accurately count, which is primarily 1) Media spend, 2) Money changing hands for a dedicated technology -- like a social listening platform or email delivery; 3)Money spend on agency fees for a dedicated channel -- e.g. search media management, building a branded community. Of course 2 and 3 are not *advertising* investments, but they are fees coming out of our clients interactive budgets, which 71% of the time come out of traditional budgets for advertising media (like print or TV) or for direct marketing or events.

We don't size spend on technologies which could play multiple roles within an organization -- like a customer database. We don't size internal staffing costs. And we don't size general agency fees. In some cases, these fees also come out of clients' interactive marketing budgets. But we can't accurately size what of these fees goes toward marketing v other business functions, so we can't include it in our forecast.

And, specific to your tweet about social media being "free," what we size here are the investments in paid social media advertising (like Facebook sponsored stories for example), money paid to an agency to create social assets -- which hopefully lead to additional earned media value, and money spent on social media management tools.

One last point here, I do represent total interactive spend as a percent of total advertising. (Total interactive spend = everything we size in the report. Total advertising = spend on advertising media, it does not include direct mail, events, call center costs, investments which I would not consider advertising). I do this primarily to show the relational size of the growing interactive investment and because so much interactive growth is coming out of traditional advertising budgets.

The point of the report is not at all that marketing is the same as advertising, or that online "kills" traditional advertising. What I hope readers come away with from this research is that interactive media and technology investments in 2016 will count for as much money as their TV advertising budgets do today, because interactive efforts now play a legitimate -- not experimental -- role in how businesses attract and retain customers.

Donina Ifurung

I just got your revised New Rules of Marketing and PR and I'm excited to plow through it. I'm surprised by VanBoskirk's lack of knowledge or is it denial? My question: with social media continuing to evolve and grow and innovate, where do you think traditional advertising will be in say, 5 years?
Thank you!

David Meerman Scott

Shar - Many thanks for jumping in here. I certainly appreciate it and I suspect my readers do too.

As you know, I was a Forrester client for many years back when I was a Marketing VP and I do think that your report has value.

I'd like to see you re-think the language you use in the next iteration of the report. Perhaps you could include a detailed explanation like you do in your comment above. I also might suggest that you only use the term "marketing" and then outline all the categories of spend in the report. Or you could make it "advertising" and then back out the spend on tools and only include what is spent on media.

As I said in my post, I feel there is a danger in misleading the folks who read your report into thinking that advertising and marketing are the same.

Again, thanks for taking the time to comment.

Terry Kerr

Excellent thread! It is very important to choose one's words carefully, especially in the digital realm where language is so easily misinterpreted and/or misconstrued. There is a drastic difference between Advertising and Marketing and as social media continues to evolve these distinctions become ever more critical.


~ Gruv

Richard Jurek

David - while you're at it, can you get people to stop confusing "marketing" with "sales" too? Drives me nuts. At one point in my career, I used to have hair... :)

Stan Dubin

I think I understood both points of view here.

Shar is *measuring* how companies are spending money to get a communication from the company to an eventual buyer. Shar needs quantifiable information to do this and to make the annual report of value to people who follow that kind of information.

David has been stressing for quite some time now that advertising dollars, especially large ones, are no longer required to get a communication delivered to an eventual buyer. So many other tools exist that a) get that job done and b) get it done much, MUCH more inexpensively. And ideally c) more effectively than throwing large advertising sums around.

Good thread.


Interesting article and great comment by Jeff.

Advertising is seeing it, marketing is feeling it!


I wish, in this world of live, interactive, two-way marketing that we stop confusing it with advertising.

Secondly, marketing has become more about the people and communication than ever before. Ads can still have an effect on raising awareness but the marketing is ultimately what garners the customer interest and later sale.

Trust and transparency is what it is all about these days.

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