Lee Odden

Online Marketing, Internet Marketing or Web Marketing?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO

No, this isn’t a lame attempt at a keyword stuffed blog post title. I’ve been noticing over the past year a significant increase in the number of references to “online marketing” by SEO blogs, articles and news web sites.

It would be easy to say I am biased due to the name of this blog and our agency both using “online marketing” in the names. I’ll admit that I probably am.

When I started working on selling and marketing web sites in 1997, the catch phrase seemed to be “web marketing” since the most common reference at the time was “world wide web”.

Then about the time Al Gore’s “invention” of the internet gained popularity, the references to “internet marketing” seemed to take over.

Which of these phrases do you think best describes the kind of digital marketing most agencies and progressive companies are engaged in now and in the next year?

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (7 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I think online marketing is the most accurate and all encompassing term as we market through social networks and mobile devices. We consider ourselves online all the time, as marketers we should say we’re marketing online.

  2. I guess Web Marketing is the least tainted of the choices you’re giving. The problem with the term “SEO” is that if I’m talking to someone about what I do, they either have no idea what SEO is (and don’t care), or it means about the same thing as Spammer does to them. The terms Online Marketing and Internet Marketing have been equally tainted by the ‘get rich quick if you buy my ebook and build your own mailing list’ folks. I’m calling myself a Web Developer these days. Covers pretty much all the bases.

  3. I’m in the Online Camp. It’s always felt right to me.

    I will say that if you’re searching for a job online, be sure to use all three variations (web, online, internet) on Indeed, OASEO, etc. The results are quite different. In addition, if your looking to hire, be sure to include all three in your posting for maximum exposure.

    Just passing it forward!

  4. At our ad agency, we use “interactive” quite a bit. We use “online marketing” too so allows us to recommend a wide range of tactics from search to widgets to display– many that overlap or depend on the other. For my search programs, I will often refer to them as “SEM” (rather than PPC) so clients don’t rule out landing pages, local, or other similar tactics.

  5. Great feedback and certainly a mix of opinions.

    I really don’t see the connection between online marketing and anything to do with get rich quick.

    Btw, this is my second ever post via Blackberry.fun

  6. I’ve always used online marketing. Most of my colleagues say online marketing. However, my boss who is from England, says web marketing. Could it be a geographic preference?

  7. Avatar Chris Winfield says

    Internet Marketing.

    You’re on the Internet. Therefore you are Internet Marketing… 🙂

  8. LOL Chris, the same logic works for web and online too.

  9. I’m not trying to be difficult, but you also mention a 4th derivation (“Digital Marketing”), that I’ve seen used quite a bit.

    Of the three you mentioned, my vote is with Internet Marketing. The word “online” makes me think of wires and modems, which is a bit of a disconnect for me when I think of something like the Mobile Internet of iPhones and Blackberries.

  10. I love how you tossed in “digital marketing” at the end, that’s hilarious. I go for just “marketing” – in my context the internet/online/web part is pretty much assumed 😉

  11. I like ‘web 2.0 interactive online marketing’. It lets me raise my price by at least 20%.

  12. Maybe there is a place for something like digital marketing or in Ian’s case, “conversation marketing” although that’s not quite as general. 🙂

  13. Oddly, I did the reverse: Back in 97, I used “Online Marketing” but I switched to saying “Web Marketing” about 5 years ago…

    But “web” is less formal as a job title, etc so I’m voting for Internet Marketing.

  14. I prefer Web Marketing, simply because I think it sounds better. 🙂

  15. Have to side with Lisa R, I use/prefer “Interactive Marketing”… that is the distinguishing characteristic and perspective, and I like it’s flexibility to scale alongside future technologies/platforms/devices (no doubt, also “invented” by Al Gore).

  16. I think in the industry, I refer to it as ‘Online Marketing’. As ‘online’ seems to cover a broader spectrum of topics that could be marketed. However I think from the perspective of customers of ‘online marketing’ they would refer to it as ‘website marketing’.

  17. Agreeing with James creare, Online Marketing talks about about a wider range of marketing opportunities.

    The concept of ‘online’ has been evolving over the last 3 years and i would reference the web 2.0 concept to ‘online’, covering Social Media sites, Blog sites and forums, rather than search engines and directories traditionally used to find what your looking for.

  18. Avatar Debbie Hemley says

    Good question!

    I thought I’d mention Forrester’s use of “Interactive Marketing” in their recent report “Forrester’s Five Year Interactive Marketing Forecast” where they broke Interactive Marketing into 5 categories:

    1. Search Marketing
    2. Online Display ads
    3. Email marketing
    4. Online video
    5. Emerging Media (was further defined as social media, mobile marketing, in-game advertising–and stated social media is poised to have most significant growth of these three elements)

  19. Great debate. In my opinion,

    web marketing = old, circa 1995
    internet marketing = ehh, 2000-ish
    online marketing = web 2.0 cha-ching!

    For what it’s worth, I graduated with a BS in eBusiness Management. Today, I’ve been rocking the, “Online Marketing Specialist” (OMS for short). 🙂

  20. I stick away from ‘online’ ‘web’ ‘internet’ etc, as it limits you to a technology defined silo.

    I specialise in Community Marketing (As opposed to Social Media Marketing or WOM Marketing!!!) which is appropriate because it’s about the methods employed, rather than the technology used. Hence why I work across offline, online, and mobile media.

  21. I’ve gone with Online Marketing/Marketer myself. The lines between traditional and digital marketing are too blurred now so I like the online/offline distinction.

  22. I guess in the end, it’s all marketing. Part of the reason for asking the question on this post is that we own marketingblog.com and are researching ways to categorize content. If all goes well it will launch Q3 of this year.

  23. I’m going to put in a vote for “internet marketing” (but I too have a bias, as that’s the phrase we’ve been using in our marketing materials).

    One somewhat data-driven rationale for this: “Internet Marketing” seems to have about 4X the number of mentions in Google than “Online Marketing”. So, it seems that internet marketing is more widely adopted.

    But, that’s just one perspective.

  24. Not once on this page is mentioned the word eMarketing… thats what we call it in South Africa!

  25. Since all of the terms are fairly interchangeable…I choose the term based on traffic and competition.

    I don’t care how perfect the term is for my business, if there’s no chance that I’ll get decent rankings for it then I won’t even try.

  26. Interactive Marketing

  27. I’m going to have to go with “online marketing” as my first choice, followed by “Web marketing.” To me, Internet marketing screams get rich quick. That being said, however, I have to agree with Drew that if I’m trying to decide which term to use on a web page, I’m going to go with the most widely recognized and used in searches. It all comes down to speaking to the masses, rather than using a phrase based on my own opinion.

  28. I think internet marketing and web marketing are kind of Web 1.0 terms. Online marketing, to me is a broader term, capturing the wider array of channels over converging technologies.


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