Directions in Digital Marketing: Past, Present and Future


Marketers all over the world rely on digital marketing to sell their products and services. Here is a brief look at the history of digital marketing up to the present day—along with a few ideas for how it could change in the future.

Digital Marketing Over the Years

Digital marketing began with the arrival of the internet. For many people, it seems like the internet has been around forever, but it only came along as recently as 1991 when Sir Tim Berners-Lee created it.

The internet was very different then to what it is now, but even in its basic form, it was not long until digital marketing made its mark. Incredibly, the first banner ad was sold just two years after the internet was invented.

Banner ads were the main form of digital marketing in the early days, but the next big thing was the rise of email, which started to take off properly when Yahoo! and Hotmail started to offer email services from anywhere.

The first e-commerce stores emerged at about the same time, with Netmarket making its first sale in 1994. Amazon also launched as Cadabra in the same year, and eBay arrived a year later.

Google’s arrival on the scene in 1998 was a game changer. So much of online marketing now revolves around SEO, and the search engine created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin has dominated for years. Google is also important not just in SEO but also in advertising, with its AdWords and AdSense platforms dominating paid search.

With the rise of SEO came the growth of content marketing, and this became increasingly important over the coming years, especially when the internet went social. was the first social network when it launched in 1997, but it only lasted a few years. Early successes like MySpace got everyone addicted, and then Facebook came along in 2004 and changed everything again.

LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and many others soon became some of the most popular websites, and social media marketing was born.

Digital Marketing Today

Things have progressed a lot over the years, and now digital marketing is the most important platform for many companies. SEO, content marketing, social media, email marketing, and paid search are all important, but we also have new forms of advertising like retargeting and native advertising.

The biggest change in recent years has been the shift to mobile, and in 2015 mobile will account for over half of digital ad spend.

Suddenly everyone is browsing on mobile devices. This means there is a need for marketers to focus on different ways to target mobile users, and the importance of this will continue.

Google is also bigger than ever with nearly 70% of the market, and Facebook has 1.55 billion active users a month, so SEO and social marketing are more important than ever.

The Future of Digital Marketing

As much as the world of digital marketing has changed over the last 20 years, it’s clear that it is not staying still. It will continue to change over the coming years, and probably at a rapid ra

So what can we expect?

While it can be difficult to predict exactly where it will go, there are a few major areas that are expected to lead the way.

Wearable technology, for example, is already here, and it will develop more over coming years, opening up new possibilities for targeting ads at people based on their exact locations.

The Internet of Things is going to be huge, but it has yet to take off in a big way. We don’t really know how it is going to affect marketing, but it is certain to have a big impact.

And then there is virtual reality. While still in its infancy, it is sure to become an important factor. But with Facebook buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion in 2014, it is clear to see that it will have a big impact, and this is also likely to have an impact on digital marketing.

Directions in Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Is Always Changing

It’s amazing just how much digital marketing has changed since it first became important in the 1990s, and it is exciting to imagine just how much it will evolve over the coming years. If you have yet to start up a digital marketing strategy, now is the time to do so. And if you already have a strategy in place, make sure you follow the trends closely to ensure you don’t get left behind.

Anthony Yap is the founder and lead SEO expert at eBusiness Masters. With over 10 years experience ranking websites in the search engines, he is familiar with the technical as well as the promotional aspects of the business. As an established search marketing company, they provide strategic Internet marketing services designed to take businesses to the next level.

Featured image credit: ShutterStock

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