by Ana Gotter June 20, 2018

Product Advertisement vs Institutional Advertisement: What You Need to Know

Ecommerce advertisers spend a lot of money creating and running campaigns designed to help them sell more. We use stories, fast facts and marketing tactics to put our content in front of our target audience, hoping it connected with them in some way.

But when it comes to advertising, are you marketing your products, or your business itself?

Do you know the difference?

Though the lines between these two factions can be blurred, it’s important to understand whether your specific campaigns are focused on product advertising or institutional advertising. If you aren’t sure, your campaigns will become muddled and you won’t get the results you want.

In this post, we’ll help you sort out the differences between the two, along with best practices for each and some tips on when to use them.

Product Advertisements vs Institutional Advertisements: What’s the Difference?

Product advertising focuses on promoting specific individual products, while institutional advertising focuses on promoting your overall brand.

This may sound like there could be some overlap, and there inevitably is to an extent, but the underlying objective of each is different, and that’s important. Product advertisements are trying to sell specific products immediately. Institutional advertisements are all about brand recognition and brand reputation. The latter is a more long-term approach to getting sales or leads, but it’s no less important.

Let’s look at an example. Pandora is a jewelry brand that sells charm bracelets that are made for women.

This ad from Pandora is an institutional ad, designed to introduce the brand to new customers or remind past customers about them. They’re going for romance in their ad, building a connection through an emotional memory so that users will hopefully remember them.

product advertisement

And then, for a good example of a specific product ad, check out the image below. It’s highlighting a specific product collection—their Pandora Shine collection. Its big feature is the 18k gold-plated jewelry, which is all inspired by nature. These are specific benefits and facts about a specific product line, designed to increase sales on these particular items.

product advertisements vs institutional advertisements

The difference between these two campaigns is striking. One is all about building brand awareness and hopefully driving traffic to the site, where users may browse to see if they find something. The second is about getting sales on a specific product line…and hopefully quickly. They go hand-in-hand together alongside each other, but they’re each serving distinct purposes.

Which Should I Use?

Most businesses need a combination of both product advertisements and institutional advertisements.

Both campaigns will complement the other: product advertisements can reinforce brand image and institutional advertisements lay an essential foundation of trust that will help your product ads be more effective. You need both.

Many often use platforms like Facebook Ads to promote their institutional ads, helping new users discover the brand and get an idea what it’s about. Then, they’ll use either retargeting through Facebook Ads or search ads with AdWords to drive product interest and sales in interested users.

I have a strategy that I use with about 80% of my clients. I have institutional ad campaigns running constantly, updating them when the engagement, clicks, or frequency on Facebook Ads drops. These are most frequently designed to attract new customers and introduce them to the brand.

I also create new product advertisements at least every other month, which offer specific selling points of different products and address specific pain points.

These can be used for AdWords or be run with Facebook Ads targeting users who have recently engaged with the brand awareness campaign or users who have visited the site recently.

Best Practices for Product and Institutional Advertisements

If you’re ready to create high-converting ads, you’ll realize early on that product advertisements and institutional advertisements have different best practices. That’s because they’re focusing on different goals.

For best results with product advertisements, you should:

  • Focus on specific product features and benefits and niche customer paint points instead of overall brand benefits. You wouldn’t want to say “all of our products are organic,” for example, you’d just highlight the fact that this product was organic and that this could help the customer’s family be healthier and happier.

  • Mention the product name in the copy. You can also include it as a text overlay on the image or video.

product advertisement

  • Use retargeting or niche interest targeting so that you can show the most relevant campaigns to the right people, increasing the likelihood of relevant clicks.

To get the maximum results with institutional advertisements, the following best practices apply:

  • Use storytelling to help make that emotional connection with new users discovering you for the first time.
  • Consider using video, which is a natural medium for storytelling and helps you capture new user interest. It also helps you convey feelings more effectively in a short time frame.
  • Typically, you’ll want to avoid mentioning specific products, even if they appear in the visual of the ad. Opt for “all furniture is made with quality hardwood or fine-grain leather” over describing a specific table or sofa. This is your place to mention that you have lower prices, are a premium brand, or are accessible to certain groups—any of those across-the-board benefits that apply to your mission and all your products should be discussed here. In the example below, they feature competitive prices without mentioning specific products.

product advertising

  • Mention your brand name in the copy.
  • If you take part in any charity work or community events and find a natural way to advertise that, do it. That can count a lot for brand image.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t know the difference between a product advertisement and an institutional advertisement, you’ll risk derailing your campaigns because you’re unable to truly optimize for either. There will be some overlap in how you’re marketing your products and your brand, and that’s okay—this shows consistency.

That being said, you want to make sure that your campaigns are focused, with clear goals and specific objectives in mind. Once you tailor the copy and targeting to match those objectives, your campaigns will be just fine.

What do you think? Do you keep your product advertisement and institutional advertisement campaigns separate? Which do you use more frequently? Do you use both? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below! 

  • Business

  • Ecommerce

Ana Gotter

Ana Gotter is a freelance writer specializing in social media and content marketing, though she writes on a variety of other niches and subjects. She can be contacted at

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