Online Marketing History: Everything You Need to Know About the Past of Online Marketing

The internet and social media changed the way we engage with customers. Before the internet, marketing was mainly focused on physical locations and traditional media. However, with the emergence of online marketing, all of that changed. In the following, you will learn about the history of online marketing, from its beginnings to the present day.

Origin of Online Marketing

In the beginning, there was nothing remotely similar to what we know today as ‘online marketing’. The internet didn’t even exist. According to some historians, the first email was sent in 1971, and the first webpage in February of 1978.

Through the years, various terms have been used to describe this type of marketing, including ‘virtual marketing’ and ‘cybermarketing’. At first, websites were mostly focused on providing facts and figures about a company or organization. In the early days, companies had to literally go to school to learn how to market online.

The Birth of Google Advertising

In the 1990s, a company named Google emerged and completely revolutionized the way we search and find information online. One of the things that made Google so special was that it applied a ‘Google Adsense’ payment system to websites. This system enabled websites to earn money from advertisements. At first, Google Adsense was only available to premium members of the Google Network.

Basically, Google Adsense for websites let advertisers display advertisements on websites. In return, the website owner gets paid a small amount each time an advertisement is clicked on or ‘served’ to the user. Today, Google Adsense is one of the biggest and most well-known affiliate marketing networks in the world. In 2020, the Google Network is currently available in more than 200 countries.

The Early Years of Affiliate Marketing

In the beginning, people simply wanted to earn a quick buck from an online source they trusted. This desire to generate revenue led to the rise of affiliate marketing. Basically, people would go ‘viral’ by sharing links to websites and digital products that they loved. If someone clicked on that link and made a purchase, the affiliate would earn a small commission.

In most cases, the affiliate marketer would get a cut of the sale. Some online marketers would even give away free products in exchange for a click and a purchase. Basically, the goal was to generate as many affiliate sales as possible. This is why most early affiliate marketers focused on online stores that sold physical products. Think about it – in the early days, there weren’t many options for online marketers to make money. You either sold a product online or you got paid to write about something or to give away a free product.

Blogging and Online Journals

As the internet grew, so did the need to write content for it. Since the inception of blogging in 2004, millions of blogs have been created and are still being written about a myriad of topics. In 2020 alone, there are over 2 million English speaking blogs created.

Blogs were originally created as a place for people to express their thoughts, and as a result, they were usually quite short. In the beginning, there wasn’t much in the way of content on the internet. People mainly used blogs to establish their own identities and to express their opinions on current events and popular culture.

The first blogs were essentially personal journals, and they focused on the blogger’s identity, interests, and experiences. As the blogosphere grew, so did the topics covered. Today, you’ll often find celebrity blogs, review blogs, and lifestyle blogs.

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

What followed was a gold rush for influencers. As the economy began to rebound in the 2010s, thousands of people jumped at the chance to become an ‘influencer’ and to live off their Instagram followers. In 2020 alone, there are over 100 million monthly active users on TikTok, and 90% of those users follow influencers’ suggestions and purchases.

Influencer marketing focuses on key opinion leaders and content creators. These individuals have large followings on social media and can significantly impact a target audience through digital content.

The Evolution of Online Marketing

As the digital landscape changed, so did the way we engaged with customers through digital channels. In most cases, the way we interact with a business now happens online. If you want to attract potential customers, you have to create a digital strategy and deploy a digital marketing agency.

To learn more about the evolution of online marketing, check out the graphic below:

The rise of digital marketing was inevitable, and it’s only been in the last few years that physical locations and online stores have blurred. Today, if you want to be successful in business, you have to be willing to adapt and evolve with the times.