25th anniversary of digital advertising

The History of Digital Advertising – On its 25th Anniversary

Digital marketing has reached its 25th anniversary this year, which is inspiring considering how quickly the development of digital marketing has occurred. If 25 years ago, you stated this timeline to somebody in the marketing industry they probably would have thought you had watched a Sci-Fi movie – such as Back to the Future – but this is the reality we are in. It serves as a good reminder of the fast, ever-changing environment of the modern world and the need to remain proactive.

The first sign of online material relating to the advertising and marketing world was AT&T. They purchased web real estate on HotWired.com and online advertising has never looked back, mainly due to the instant success of that campaign where ‘Approximately 44% of those who saw the ad clicked on it’ showing a very promising open rate, especially for a brand-new feature.

Innovation has always been at the forefront of online marketing; AT&T lured people in with ‘have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You will’, how creative and innovative was this? No one had ever developed online marketing material before, and this was the first step – demonstrating how online marketing material would start to develop from this point on and grow to become a global business full of new, creative ideas and people. Here are some key events in the progression of online marketing:

1998 – Google debut

– Had more advanced search algorithms, putting Google above other search engines

– Accredited to starting search engine optimisation (SEO)


2004 – Facebook debut

– Massive growth and usage increased the number of people online

– Through this developed ‘Facebook Flyers’ and online marketing


2008 – iPhone App Store

– Helped mobile usage grow and result in mobile advertising developing

– iPhone 3G was 36% quicker than other mobiles using 3G

– This then started the boom with in-app advertising by increasing loading speeds


2010 – Social Media gains momentum

– Social media skyrockets, helped by the two features below:

– Instagram launches and helps progress the momentum of social media marketing

– iPad is released, leading to multi-platform factors. Mobile responsive design to adapt gained more importance due to the amount of traffic


2014 – In-app mobile advertising

– The widespread adoption of smartphones meant more apps were being used

– Created an untapped market to delve into, hence in-app mobile advertising


2019 – Growing AI

– Highlights how online marketing is innovative and creative is always at the forefront

– Mobiles adopted AR and voice technology years previously but growing AI use shows that online marketing has huge potential and is very ambitious.


Looking back across the history of digital marketing it is easy to pinpoint areas of innovation, and they may seem obvious now but at the time they were amazingly creative, innovative and continue to be. These ideas have caused worldwide shockwaves, which have changed the face of marketing irrefutably.


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