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The History of Digital Marketing

History of digital marketing since pre-internet era

The world of digital marketing is the bulk of marketing practices today. If you missed our blog on the history of marketing (pre-digital), check it out here.  Since the move to the web 1.0, the world of marketing has changed drastically. From Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing, to content marketing and social media marketing, the online world has shaped a new frontier for marketing. Here we will look at how we have shaped digital marketing, and how the digital world has shaped us, your website and marketing as a whole.

The Evolution of Digital Marketing

The concept of a digital world started over 40 years ago (if you can believe it). Back then it had just seemed like a dystopian dream. Little did people of the 80’s know, a new wave of technology was about to change their lives forever.


In 1981 IBM launched the very first personal computer. Prior to this, computers were reserved for large companies and research institutes who could afford them. By 1989, the storage capacity of the personal computer grew to a whopping 100mb.

Web 1.0

In 1990, the term “digital marketing” was first used, and the first engine, albeit very limited, called “Archie” was launched. By the mid-90s, web-ad banners began to show up on websites, Yahoo! launched, and the very first transaction over the internet occurred via Netmarket. In 1997, the very first social media site was launched,, positing that you are never more than 6 degrees from knowing any and everyone.


In 1998, a small search engine and website was launched called BackRub in Menlo Park, California. This company would eventually become the behemoth that we know today as Google. This was also the year, Microsoft launches MSN, and Yahoo! launches Yahoo! Web search. In the year 2000, the internet bubble explodes, and the online world becomes completely mainstream. This is the end of web 1.0.

The Age of Social Media

In 2002 LinkedIn is launched. In 2003, WordPress and MySpace are launched and rapidly grow in popularity. In 2004 Google goes public and launches Gmail, and Facebook goes live. In 2005 YouTube is launched. 2006 sees Twitter launch, and Amazon as an e-commerce platform crosses $10 billion in sales. In 2007, Tumblr is launched. Search engine optimization (SEO) shows up on the scene as a way to get ahead of the competition.

Mobile Internet

Nokia launched the 9000 Communicator cell phone with the first iteration of the internet on it, but it was hardly viable. Additionally, in the early 2000s, Blackberry made several phones capable of using telephone networks to access the internet for email. In 2007, however, the iPhone was launched with a dedicated browser and opened a new world of mobile internet usage. In 2008, Spotify launches, and Groupon goes live. In 2010, WhatsApp goes live, and the internet is at its most robust point in history. Marketing is widespread at this point, and businesses begin using social media marketing as a tool to reach users. By 2014, mobile internet use surpasses PC usage. Shortly after predicative analytics, wearable technology, and content marketing takes over the web.

history of digital marketing

The Future of Digital Marketing

At every step in the evolution of digital marketing, it seemed that things could not become more connected, however they continued to. So, what is next? Connectivity of consumers will continue to grow. Metrics are collected from every device connected to the internet. This includes, personal phones, biometrics, appliances, wearable technology, vehicles and even surveillance. With the advent of paid display ads, companies can now show you ads specifically based on your personality, tastes, locations, search history and interests. Artificial intelligence will continue to grow and make lives easier for people. Voice optimization will continue to grow as virtual assistants grow in popularity. SEO and research metrics will begin to encompass voice searching as internet connectivity becomes less tactile. A world of personalization is right on our doorstep.

Are you interested in learning more about digital marketing and what we can do to ensure the digital marketing success of your business? Contact the experts of WEB ROI. We will keep you at the forefront of the digital marketing world, ensuring your success in a busy digital world.

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The History of Digital Marketing



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