History of Digital Marketing: How We Got Here
History of Digital Marketing: How We Got Here
The evolution of digital marketing has been a fascinating journey. We’ve seen the rise and fall of many different trends, from social media to email marketing. The future is looking bright for digital marketers because we’re still in the early stages of what will become an even bigger industry than it already is today. In this post, we’ll be outlining how we got here and where we’re going next in the world of digital marketing!
The World Wide Web
The most obvious catalyst for the rise of digital marketing is the creation and subsequent widespread adoption of the World Wide Web in 1991. Tim Berners-Lee invented the hypertext transfer protocol (or simply, “the web”) which allowed for unprecedented access to information across multiple platforms via desktop computers.
Slowly, companies started offering their services online by creating websites with information about themselves and what products they were selling, which people could access via the web. The web has now become commonplace in our everyday lives, with over three billion internet users around the world currently owning a smartphone and browsing digital channels.
Modern Search Engines & Google
As search engines like Yahoo! and Ask.com started to gain popularity, marketers realized that search engine optimization (or SEO) was an effective strategy for getting their brand in front of more eyeballs than ever before. Marketers began studying how Google’s algorithms worked and applying these findings to optimize the content on websites so they would rank higher in the results – this is what we now call “Search Engine Marketing”, or SEM.
Over time, as the internet grew and people started using search engines for more than just looking up movie times, Google began to emerge as a leader in this space by offering premium ads that appeared at the top of search pages. This allowed brands to create high-converting advertisements directly from their AdWords account, and the rest is history as they say.
Social Media Platforms & The Birth of Content Marketing
One year before Google was founded, Hotmail became the first major email provider to use a freemium business model which allowed users access to extra storage if they signed up for an ad-free version of their service. This led to the proliferation of free email accounts that we see today, and the trend has continued with social media.
Social networks like Facebook (which was founded in 2004) have experienced massive growth around the world by offering a service for users to connect with friends and family online at no cost – as long as they agreed to accept ads from brands looking to reach their target market. This has led to the rise of content marketing, which is essential for marketers to create high-quality blog posts and articles that they share on their websites and social media channels in order to reach a wider audience.
Paid Search Advertising & AdRoll
In 2005, Google decided to take things for digital marketing one step further by introducing paid search advertising with AdWords. This meant that marketers could now display their ads directly above or to the side of search results, and bid on keywords so they would appear in these places when someone searched for a term.
This gave brands more control over where (and how) their ads appeared compared to traditional SEM strategies like SEO and social media advertising – which were highly dependent on what algorithm the search engine used.
Since then, AdWords has become more advanced and is now split into two separate platforms: Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) which allows you to bid on keywords for your ads; and DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DBM – an ad server that gives marketers access to more than one bidding platform including third-party and exchange sources.
Today there are more than two million advertisers around the world using AdWords to promote their business, making it by far the most popular paid search platform in existence. This is largely due to its ability to track ROI for marketers via Google Analytics, allowing them to measure things like website clicks, conversions (or sales), average order value, and more.
This has allowed marketers to make smarter decisions when it comes to advertising on Google, as they are now able to track both online and offline conversions that take place after an ad click – unlike traditional SEM where you only have the ability to track website visits or clicks which occurred from a PPC campaign.
AdRoll was founded in 2007 and is another paid search platform that has experienced exponential growth in the past few years. It allows marketers to bid on keywords for their ads, then tracks where all of these visitors go when they click through from a PPC campaign.
This is similar to AdWords, but it also gives users access to third-party data so they can target specific audiences more effectively. This includes things like email lists, CRM data, retargeting pixels, contact databases and the list goes on…
The combination of all of these features has helped AdRoll (and other paid search platforms) to become some of the most popular digital marketing tools around today – with over $100 billion in ad spend managed by the platform every year!
Retargeting & Cookies
One of the most innovative (and effective) things that AdRoll does for digital marketing is retargeting. This takes place when a user visits your website, then leaves without making any purchases; but you’re still able to track them on other websites they visit after leaving yours. You can then display ads for your products to these users when they’re visiting other websites, via the AdRoll platform.
This has become increasingly popular in recent years with 57% of marketers using it today (according to a study by Econsultancy), and is particularly effective at boosting ROI after new product launches or seasonal sales. It’s also great for keeping visitors on your website longer, which can lead to more sales via things like upselling and cross-selling.
There are certain disadvantages when it comes to retargeting though; because around 25% of users tend to find this type of advertising creepy (more so than regular banner ads). This is where cookies come in handy…
A cookie is a piece of data that’s stored on your computer when you visit certain websites, and it can be used to track things like where you’ve been online (which pages or categories did you view?) What items did you put in your shopping cart? Did you purchase anything? This information allows marketers to display ads for products related to the ones you viewed during your previous visit – another online marketing strategy that’s been proven to boost sales and conversion rates.
DoubleClick is another popular platform for advertisers, as it allows them to manage all of their ads across the web in one convenient place (similar to AdRoll). This means they can do things like creating custom audiences, using remarketing lists, and managing Google Display Network ads – all from the same platform.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that helps you understand how visitors engage with your website or app; it provides measurements like visits, bounce rates, session durations, and traffic sources (or referrers). This makes it easy to see things like which pages on your website are most popular (or least popular), where your visitors are coming from, and how they found you (e.g organic search, paid advertising such as PPC, social media etc).
Google Analytics is free to set up, but there are different types of paid subscriptions that offer additional features for businesses. You can also integrate your Google Analytics account with AdWords so it works seamlessly together, which makes reporting easier and more accurate.
The Future Seems Even Brighter
As the world becomes increasingly digital, internet marketing strategies are becoming more popular. This is especially true for things like social media advertising (which has increased by 84% since 2015) and mobile ads – which are expected to account for 73% of total US display ad spend in 2017!
All of these tools have helped marketing professionals become much better equipped to create and implement a better digital marketing strategy, leading to a much better ROI for their clients.
So there you have it; a brief history of digital marketing and how we got to where we are today. It really has come a long way in such a short space of time, and it’s expected to continue growing as the world becomes increasingly digital.
Digital Engage is a full-service digital marketing agency that has been around for some time now. We offer a range of digital marketing services including SEO, PPC, and Content Marketing. Get in touch with us today to learn more!