Skip to content

Passive VS Active Advertising – Which One is Right for You?

Passive and active advertising have different purposes and both have their own pros and cons. Learn about each type and how they may be helpful for you.

Table of Contents

Passive Marketing VS Active Marketing

What is Passive Advertising? 

Passive advertising is any form of marketing that doesn’t require much (if any) interaction from the customer. With passive marketing, the advertiser sets up different outlets for the customer, so they are directed to your business. An example of passive marketing would be business accounts on social media or a website. It’s a way of getting your message out there without actively trying to sell something.

Passive marketing takes effort on the front end; however, it can save you time and money if correctly implemented. With Passive marketing, a business will promote products and services in subtle ways to avoid overwhelming consumers. So, you show up more organically. 

Passive advertising can include billboards, TV commercials, print ads, and product placement. Additionally, the display ads you see in the margins of a website or between content is another form of passive advertising. Consumers can look at the ad or focus on the other content with digital display ads. This way, the advertiser doesn’t feel like they’re forcing customers into viewing their content, and it feels more organic. 

With passive advertising, you’re essentially hoping that customers will see your ad and be intrigued enough to want to learn more about your product or service. But there’s no guarantee that they will take any action.

What is Active Advertising?

On the other hand, active advertising is a form of marketing that requires customers to take some kind of action to see your message. With active marketing, there is a focus on networking with other businesses and customers. This could be anything from clicking on an ad to signing up for a free trial.

Active marketing is intentional engagement with opportunities to promote your business. Some examples are cold calling and pitching, reaching out to your audience through social platforms, or working in a community. Active marketing is a bit more aggressive than passive. You’re making an effort to be more obvious and intrusive so that customers know they’re being advertised to.

Common examples of active advertising include Pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Search engine optimization (SEO), Social media marketing, and email marketing. One of the most prominent examples of active advertising is pop-up ads. Whether or not the client was looking for the ad, it’s presented to them, and once they see it, they know they were very obviously targeted with an ad. Then, it is up to the customer to take action or close the ad. 

As mentioned, email marketing is another form of active marketing because it goes directly to a customer’s inbox. 

With active advertising, you’re more likely to reach customers who are already interested in what you have to offer. But it can also be more expensive and time-consuming than passive advertising.

Different types of businesses and some examples of each

Now that we’ve gone over what passive and active marketing is, let’s look at some different types of businesses and which route they tend to take.


E-commerce businesses often rely on active marketing to draw in customers because they don’t have a physical location.  

Some common examples of active marketing for eCommerce are PPC ads, SEO, and email marketing. These strategies allow customers to find the business when they’re actively looking for what the company has to offer. 

For example, if someone is searching for “women’s shoes size 8,” an eCommerce store that sells shoes may use SEO tactics to ensure their site appears as one of the top results. Then, it’s up to the customer to decide whether or not they want to purchase from that store. 

Local businesses

On the other hand, local businesses can get away with passive advertising because they have a physical location. Customers in the area are likely to see their billboards, TV commercials, or print ads. And if they’re interested, they can visit the business.

Some local businesses may also choose to do active marketing, especially if they’re trying to reach a wider audience. But passive marketing is often sufficient for local businesses.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

B2B companies usually take both passive and active marketing approaches. It often depends on the product or service they offer. 

For example, if a B2B company sells software that businesses need to operate, they may first use passive marketing to generate interest. Then, once a potential customer expresses interest, the company can reach out with active marketing to close the deal. 

Common examples of passive marketing for B2B companies are content marketing, webinars, and whitepapers. And common examples of active marketing include sales calls, emails, and LinkedIn InMails.

Two women discussing PPC results.

Digital Marketing Agency

Digital marketing agencies tend to use a mix of both passive and active marketing to reach their target market. 

They may use passive strategies like SEO and website design to ensure potential customers easily find their clients’ websites. And they may use active strategies like PPC ads and social media marketing to make sure as many people see their clients’ businesses as possible.

Pros and Cons of Passive Marketing & Active Marketing

Choosing the right marketing strategy for your business can be daunting. To help you make the best decision for your business, let’s go over the pros and cons of passive and active marketing. 

Pros of Passive Marketing

  • It can be less expensive than active advertising
  • Reach a broad audience with little effort
  • Great for building brand awareness

There’s a potential for a higher return on investment (ROI) with passive marketing. Active campaigns are typically short-lived and are only successful when you’re consistently working on them. However, passive marketing requires more long-term strategies that can have a higher ROI. 

Businesses can also outsource passive marketing. As a business, there are so many pieces of marketing to focus on, and it can get overwhelming and hard to manage all pieces of a project; however, with passive marketing, you can outsource it. For example, businesses can hire content writers to help with traffic or outsource to digital marketing agencies to work on their Google rankings and website traffic. 

Lastly, passive marketing is more flexible than active marketing. You’re able to outsource and automate the majority of passive marketing strategies. That way, you can spend more time running your business versus talking about it or focusing on the nuances of marketing. 

Cons of Passive Marketing

  • Less control over who sees your ad
  • No guarantee that people will take any action after seeing your ad
  • It can be easy to tune out

Since passive marketing is a long-term approach, progress is slower. Passive marketing is a strategy that requires patience to build a following. 

With active marketing, businesses can see results almost immediately. But with passive marketing, it takes time to build an audience and generate leads. 

Additionally, passive marketing requires consistent effort to be successful. You can’t just set up a blog and forget about it. You need to publish new content to keep people coming back regularly. And if you want people to share your content, you need to promote it on social media and other channels. Otherwise, your content will get lost in the noise. 

Lastly, passive marketing can be less effective for certain types of businesses. For example, passive marketing may not be the best approach if you’re selling a high-end product or service. That’s because passive marketing is about building relationships and trust over time. If you’re selling a product that people need to decide on immediately, they may not have the time or patience to wait for your passive marketing strategy to pay off.

Pros of Active Marketing

  • More likely to reach customers who are already interested in what you have to offer
  • Can be more targeted than passive advertising
  • It gives you more control over the customer journey

Businesses that do active marketing tend to see faster results. Companies will see an influx in traffic, but it will slowly decrease over time if the business does not maintain those active marketing habits. Active marketing can be good for a business if you want to see faster results over a long-term plan. 

Active marketing is more personal. Customers appreciate when companies personalize their experience – whether through intentional content or by taking the time to respond to messages.

With active marketing, businesses have more control over their message and who sees it. They can target their ads to specific demographics, interests, and locations. And they can use retargeting to show ads to people who have already shown an interest in their product or service.

Additionally, active marketing is great for lead generation. That’s because active campaigns are typically geared towards getting people to take action, such as filling out a form or signing up for a newsletter. 

Cons of Active Marketing

  • It can be more expensive and time-consuming than passive advertising
  • It may require more effort to get people to take action

Active marketing requires businesses to put themselves out there and network themselves. Unfortunately, depending on personalities, networking can be very overwhelming and tiring. 

Active marketing can be more time-consuming. While you save money by not having to pay for advertising, you are spending time engaging with your audience. It can be time-consuming.

With active marketing, businesses have to put in the effort to maintain their campaigns continuously. They need to create new ads regularly, test different strategies, and monitor their results. But, finally, there is no guarantee that people will take action after seeing your ad. Even if you target your ad to the right audience, and even if they click on it, there’s no guarantee that they will take the next step and buy your product or service.

So, what is better for you?

Now the question is, what’s better for you? There’s no right answer because the answer depends on your audience, goals, brand, budget, etc. 

If you want to reach a broad audience with minimal effort, passive advertising may be the way to go. But if you’re looking to target a specific group of people who are more likely to convert, active advertising may be a better option.

Overall, we recommend that businesses incorporate both active and passive advertising to get the best results. 

Team deciding between passive or active advertising.

You can use passive advertising to build brand awareness and reach a wider audience. And you can use active advertising to target potential customers who are more likely to convert. 

Of course, both advertising approaches have their pros and cons. Passive advertising may be a less expensive and less time-consuming way to reach a broad audience, active advertising allows businesses to target potential customers who are more likely to convert. 

On the other hand, active advertising requires businesses to put themselves out there and network, which can be very time-consuming, and passive advertising allows businesses to put together long-term strategies and be more hands-off with it. 

Ultimately, the best way to determine which approach is right for you is to experiment with both and see what works best for your business. But if you want the best of both worlds, a great way to market is to plan for a passive and active advertising strategy!

If you’re interested in implementing passive advertising, active advertising, or both, schedule a discovery call. We’re here to help you build your business, increase traffic to your website, and meet your goals.

Resource Categories