Digital marketing history, evolution, timeline, chronology

Digital marketing history, evolution, timeline, chronology. At this very moment I am doing a specialization at the University of Colorado Boulder and they tangentially touched the subject; somehow it moved springs inside me and I deduced that I had many elements to make a good summary about it.


To learn and constantly review the evolution of digital marketing; to serve so that scholars around the world have a summary, compendium or synthesis of the most relevant facts about digital marketing. I would like to get to 2020, what I mean, until 2021 or the year in which I will continue updating the material, however I know it will not be easy. Electronic marketing is here to stay. As you will see, the background is as relevant as the material itself. I hope that the material will indeed be useful in universities, institutes, schools and training spaces in general.


To talk about the origin and development of digital marketing, we have to repeat ad nauseam, which is tied to the emergence of the Internet, which is the great synonym for digital, which was the medium that allowed us to combine the knowledge of traditional marketing with new technologies. .

In this vein, the year 1971 was fundamental because it was in that year that Ray Tomlinson sent his first email (and it is no secret to anyone that it is one of the strongest channels of approach to leads and prospects that exist).

Now, when was the office itself baptized? That is, when did you start talking about digital Marketing property?

It wasn’t until the 1990s that this started to happen. For the next decade this world became more sophisticated and greatly refined its methods, especially as an effective way to create relationships with consumers, adding value in the process.

But since it is one thing to give a name to a profession and another is the profession, as it structures its ways of acting, digital marketing itself dates back to the mid-1980s, when Soft Ad Group, now Channel Net, developed advertising campaigns for several big auto companies that people were texting.

Evolution of digital marketing

Beginnings, origin


During the 1980s, several innovations and technology developments such as PCs, programming languages and hardware in general were made. The first personal computer was released by IBM in 1981.

In 1986, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted SQL as the standard. It is a database model. (While it is true that information is disclosed by milestones or major events, the advancement of both computers and the internet and even digital marketing was still on its way).

Thus, in 1989, the memory capacity of computers was increased to 100 MB, a previously unexplored frontier in terms of storing customer and supplier information.

In the 1980s, companies realized the importance of building customer relationships rather than just promoting one-time product sales in isolation.

Marketing specialists began to structure and commercialize databases which allowed them to know the interests, hobbies and consumption habits of consumers in each niche.

But also this same management with its suppliers and commercial partners, which perfected the commercial actions of the companies.

This fundamental step allowed companies to obtain information, store and track their customers like never before; Of course, it was not about information but about what was done with it.

However the whole process was still manual. That is why several entrepreneurs were working to start automating processes.

In 1986, the customer management company ACT launches database marketing software for the first time. This database marketing software would streamline the organization and processing of stored information.

Robert Kestenbaum and Robert Shaw, known as the fathers of marketing automation, created several database models together that helped BT and Barclays, for example.

These Database Marketing solutions contained many features including sales channel automation, campaign management, contact strategy optimization, marketing analytics, and marketing resource management.

History of digital marketing

The advent of the internet

The mass adoption of the Internet in everyday life is the most important event that has affected marketing in the last three decades. Although early desktop publishing software on the first PCs caused a surge in print marketing in the 1980s, computers were little more than a typewriter with stage presence and status.

Launched by Tim Berners-Lee and his team in 1991, the World Wide Web project didn’t really take off until the first successful mass-market browser, Netscape, was launched in 1994. In the next two years, the number of people who used the web soared from 16 million to 70.



When was digital marketing born? Perhaps these are the key years to provide answers to this question.

In 1991, Computer Literacy, a Silicon Valley bookstore, began selling books to local consumers over the Internet. This was a step higher than what had been obtained before.In Internet archive there is enriching material on the matter.


In 1993, the first clickable banner was launched. For the new, very young in the trade this may be silly, but hyperlinks are what allow traceability and reliable analytics to make business decisions.

HotWired bought some banner ads for their advertising, they believed in the model. This marked the beginning of the transition to the digital age of marketing.

As the server / client architecture emerged and the popularity of personal computers grew, customer relationship management (CRM) applications flourished and were beneficially incorporated into the business flow of companies.

The supply and demand processes forced these digital solution providers to include more services in their software, for example, marketing, sales and service applications.


Due to this gradual change, the year 1994 saw new technologies enter the digital market. The same year, Yahoo was launched.

I knew and personally navigated the platform in its beginnings; Seen in perspective, it does constitute another of those formidable marketing milestones.

Also known as “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” (alluding to its founder Jerry Yang), Yahoo received close to 1 million visits in its first year.

This stream of visits, and its possibilities, shook the wholesale foundation in the digital marketing space, with companies optimizing their websites for higher search engine rankings. (Relevant data for a History of SEO, a project that I hope to undertake very soon).

The next rung on the evolutionary ladder was inevitable. The first clickable ad was published in 1994, which was AT & T’s “You Will” campaign, and during the first four months of its publication, 44% of all viewers clicked on it. ad. A high conversion rate, perhaps because of the novelty of the format, of the medium (internet), are only part of the explanations for its excellent CTR.

GEoCities was also born that year. I was also fortunate to try the service at the time. Massive use of spaces for expression for ordinary people. And they succeeded.

Here comes another piece of information to close this information block: When does affiliate marketing start? In 1994 when William Tobin introduced PC Flowers & Gifts, being the first company to provide follow-up and, indeed, affiliate marketing.

Historical development of marketing 1995-1998


Break into the Classmates market. Amazon quickly developed the idea of online commerce, with the slight change being to sell the books to people anywhere in the country, helping to create modern e-commerce.

That same year, something else happened that was very important to the creation of the modern Internet. Wired magazine decided to launch a website. More importantly, they decided they would pay for it with advertising.

Let’s follow the compendium of information.


1996 saw the launch of a couple more search engines and tools like HotBot, LookSmart, and Alexa. The important thing here is not that these are possible real competition for Google Search but that they are introducing elements that are later assimilated by the search engines that survive.


The first recognized social networking site “Six Degrees”, founded in 1997 by Andrew Weinreich. It is said that this concept would later give rise to Linkedin and others.


1998 saw the birth of Google. Microsoft launched the MSN search engine and Yahoo launched the Yahoo web search. To date, both search engines persist with a small share of the market.

Cookies were another major milestone in the digital marketing industry. You may wonder why: these follow-ups help improve advertising campaigns.

Advertisers had started looking for other ways to capitalize on fledgling technology. One of those techniques was to track the browsing habits and common usage patterns of frequent Internet users to tailor promotions and marketing guarantees to their tastes.

The first cookie was designed to record user habits. The use of the cookie has changed over the years, and today cookies are coded to offer sellers a variety of ways to collect literal data from users.

Digital Marketing Timeline 1999-2000


In 1999, the first blog sites became popular, creating a sensation of social networks (I mean the possibility to participate, to interact, to generate two-way communication, something radical for its time, where static websites did not. allowed, only they generated information, period.) something that is still popular today.

Let’s move on in this summary, in this we organize the information found on the web to show a homogeneous block of how things happened.


Two years later, the internet bubble burst and all the smaller search engines were left behind or disappeared, leaving more room for the giants in the business. Pure digital Darwinism, survival of the fittest. Wild capitalism would call it others.

Then came Web 2.0, where people became more active participants instead of remaining passive users. Web 2.0 allowed users to interact with other users and companies. This took things to a superlative level.

Furthermore, a 2000 survey conducted in the UK found that most retailers had not registered their own domain address. These issues encouraged marketers to find new ways to integrate digital technology into market development.

After the invention of blogging, social media began to explode in popularity. Sites like MySpace (2003) and LinkedIn gained prominence in the early 2000s, and sites like Photobucket and Flickr made it easy to share photos online.

Online marketing 2002-2007

Google quickly became the most popular search engine and established itself as the largest at the beginning of the decade. SEO is the big industry in digital marketing. Its beginnings were relatively simple, although adjustments were needed in response to changes in its algorithms.

In general, it was enough to have a site with good strong links that could get rankings for any type of topic. This precipitated many attempts at manipulation by users.

PPC (pay per click) started to gain importance, but the fundamental focus was SEO.


YouTube came out in 2005, creating an entirely new way for people to communicate and share with each other over great distances. Warning: those who founded it are not its current owners, remember that Google would buy it later.


The digital marketing world saw its first sharp spike in 2006 when search engine traffic was reported to have increased to about 6.4 billion in a single month. By not lagging behind, Microsoft put MSN on the back burner and launched Live Search to compete with Google and Yahoo.

In the 2000s, with a growing number of Internet users and the birth of the iPhone, customers began to search for products and make decisions about their needs online first, rather than consulting a salesperson, creating a new problem. for the marketing department of a company.

Labels like “information super highway” began to be applied to the Internet. As a result, information flow volumes – including channels used by digital marketers – increased, and in 2004, Internet advertising and marketing in the US only generated about $ 2.9 billion.

In 2006, Facebook and Twitter became available to users around the world. These sites are still some of the most popular social networks on the Internet.


In 2007, marketing automation was developed in response to the ever-evolving marketing climate. Marketing automation is the process by which software is used to automate conventional marketing processes, effectively saving time and money for companies as well as increasing the effectiveness of the processes.

Marketing automation helped companies segment customers, launch multi-channel marketing campaigns, and provide personalized information for customers. However, the speed of its adaptability to consumer devices was not fast enough.

Internet Marketing 2010-2013

Search Engines and Article Marketing: By focusing on SEO, it became common, at this time, to use guest posts to improve search engine rankings. Now, focusing on user experience, only niche blogs have survived.

The higher cost of maintaining a good website led many businesses to PPC. It was at this time, too, that the local search became most apparent. It’s easier to get a business website in a specific city to show up well in local searches.

Video: YouTube is consolidated as the great video platform. This type of marketing is starting to gain traction in that year. Companies emerge by creating their channels and sponsoring their videos, more and more.

Blogs: Personal blogs are almost gone. Instead, only professional blogs survive, powered by large teams and high editorial control. General utility sites like classifieds, e-commerce, and services get high visibility.


Digital marketing became more sophisticated in the 2000s and 2010s, when the proliferation of devices capable of accessing digital media led to sudden growth.

Soon, social networking sites began to emerge. MySpace was the first social networking site to arrive, soon followed by Facebook.

Many companies realized that all these new new sites that were popping up were beginning to open new doors of opportunity to market their products and brands. It opened new avenues for business and ushered in a new chapter for business. With new resources, they needed new approaches to promote their brands and capitalize on the social media platform.

In 2010, WhatsApp was launched together with Google Buzz.


In 2011, Google+ and Google Panda were launched. People have already started spending time on digital media, and these media have also surpassed television audiences.


2012 is the year of social media. Companies have increased their social media budget by up to 64%, and the Google knowledge graph was also released. Myspace and Facebook are popular social networking sites among people.


In 2013, Yahoo acquired Tumblr.


Statistics produced in 2012 and 2013 showed that digital marketing was still growing.

Digitally marketed products are now available to customers at all times. Statistics compiled by Marketingtechblog for 2014 show that posting on social media is the top online activity in the United States.

In 2014, the number of mobile phone and smartphone users had exceeded the number of PC users. Facebook messaging app launched along with personalized ads on LinkedIn and iWatch. During this year, Facebook acquired WhatsApp.


Va cobrando gran importancia el Big Data, los macrodatos, los grandes volúmenes de información para ir procesando y combinando la fuente de los datos. Todo esto revelará patrones de compra y comportamientos de los consumidores.

Las búsquedas móviles suben vertiginosamente marcando toda una tendencia irreversible. Se especula que la conversión social está a la vuelta de la esquina. Aumenta la cantidad de medios de pago online. Los creadores de contenido se vuelven en un oficio o trabajo relevante para los sitios web.

CRO y ROI se tornan fundamentales para tomar decisiones.

En resumen

The digital market is in a constant state of flux. A digital marketer must find ways to keep up with this change. They need to keep an eye out for emerging trends and the development of newer and smarter search engine algorithms. After all, no one can afford to be left behind in this race.

 Digital Marketing timeline, marketing, timeline, history

Smart phones

Digital marketing would not be understood in a good way if we did not contemplate smartphones.

The first cell phones made their first appearance in the 1970s and continued to evolve into the late 20th century and beyond. However, the first adventure in smartphone technology is considered BlackBerry. Launched in 2003, the device allowed users to send emails through their devices for the first time and was favored by businesses and governments for their network security.

In 2007, Apple released the iPhone. With this development, the true era of smartphones had begun, allowing marketers to reach consumers more precisely, directly and for longer periods of time.

Subsequently, smartphones led to a further increase in the use of social media, something that further increased marketing opportunities. In 2011, Americans engaged with mobile media for an average of 46 minutes. In 2017, this number was 258. Smartphones are now the number one digital device for Internet use in the United States.

I also made this video for a class, with the help of my audiovisual equipment, I hope it will be helpful:

Angel version 012-20 of June 27, 2020. Structure edition March 28 of 2021; other adjustments September 2021-2022-23

Webgraphy consulted Digital marketing history

Simplilearn; UWA online; Gradesfixer

Read also: Importance of international marketing; Origin of digital marketing; Marketing costs definition; Digital Marketing Background

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