History of Digital Marketing: Origin and Evolution

The history of digital marketing is the key to understanding how business has changed in the world over the past 30 years. Throughout this time, technical development has contributed to the evolution of digital marketing and thus managed to revolutionize sales techniques.

But what is digital marketing? Before starting this journey through the history of digital marketing, you should know what this definition includes. We can say that digital marketing is the evolution of traditional marketing because, according to the Financial Times, it is the component of marketing that uses online tools to generate sales.

The tools provided by the Internet have shaped the history of digital marketing and, in addition to allowing us to sell more, have also enabled us to sell better. For example, thanks to them, it is now possible to strengthen the relationship with our customers, save money and measure our results in real-time.

To know how it has been possible to achieve these results over the years, the history of digital marketing brings together all the necessary technical elements. To prove it to you, we have prepared this article in which we will tell you everything you need to know to understand the chronology of digital marketing from its beginnings to the present day.

Keep reading! 

History of Digital Marketing: Origin and Evolution

                                                                               Digital Marketing Roadmap

Background of digital marketing

The beginnings of marketing go back to the 15th century, when the printing press was invented, which changed the information dissemination method. After this invention, through books and magazines, mass communication has become possible.

Years later, during the Industrial Revolution, the ability to mass-produce products emerged, and antitrust laws were established, which made companies need to distinguish themselves from each other, even though there are similar products.

As part of the digital marketing timeline, it is necessary to note that in 1902 University of Michigan professor ED Jones first used the term marketing, which, according to the expert, refers exclusively to the product, its production, and distribution.

In 1911, marketing became an independent discipline taught in courses. Then, in 1922, Fred E. Clark described the concept of marketing in his book Principles of Marketing, which made him a pioneer in the field. Later, he became the first president of the American Marketing Association.

To further the origin of marketing, experts decided to use disciplines such as psychology, social sciences, and business administration. After that, the first studies appeared on consumer behavior and the symbolism of brands, which we know today as a brand.

In 1967 one of the most important events in the history of digital marketing occurred. The author known as the father of marketing Philip Kotler has published one of the greatest books on marketing theory: Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, and Control.

In it, a new commercial approach to marketing has been created, where the author asserts that this should be the center of the strategy of all companies. From there, marketing will redefine itself along with technological developments to align with the needs of companies.

Why is digital marketing important?

In recent times, the massification of internet access has meant that people spend a large part of their day connected to their mobile phones and computers.

The ease of use and the infinite variety of options have made it the ideal setting not only to be entertained but also to work, buy products and services or perform tasks that previously seemed unthinkable.

Certainly, the internet has the most potential customers of any business in the world, no matter what niche or location they are, in the digital world is the greatest opportunity for conversion and success for every single one of them. 

A concise digital presence based on professional strategies that can make the most impact possible to attract, retain and generate emotional bonds with an infinite number of people will be vital if you want to survive amid an uncompromising and competitive market.

Some reasons that exemplify the importance of digital marketing strategies are:
  • Get more customers and brand ambassadors
  • Increase reputation and brand reach
  • Become a benchmark in your sector
  • Fair competition with big companies
  • Stand out among thousands of similar brands
  • Increased productivity and money savings
  • Better optimization of your resources and strategies than old methods
If you didn't have a digital presence today, you wouldn't be visible to people. The game rules have changed, and only those brands that know how to adapt to changes and new trends will survive and grow. Establishing a foothold in digital marketing today ensures brand sustainability over other options.

Getting support and advice from a range of professionals in your area will always be an option to consider to make the right decision. Digital marketing is the most powerful weapon to influence your audience and grow your business as quickly and effectively as possible.

The history of digital marketing

1. Beginnings of digital marketing

So when did digital marketing begin? It is estimated that the history of digital marketing began in 1990, along with the creation of the first search engine "Archie". This search engine worked just like the current search engines and allowed companies to track their customers' information.

In the following years, the term digital marketing was first mentioned due to the growing popularity of computers. People are becoming more knowledgeable about technology and companies have had to implement different types of CRM software to keep track of their customer's data.

In 1994, the history of digital marketing took a turn at the hands of AT&T company, when it created the first clickable ad banner, which was part of the "Vas A" campaign. This initiative focused on demonstrating the Internet's transformative power that could generate a high level of engagement.

Relevant events continue in the history of digital marketing in 1998 with various technological developments, such as Google, MSN, and Yahoo! Searching on the web, which has increased the search levels of people all over the world.

During the same year, the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) was born to name the techniques developed for placing digital content in search engines as the history of digital marketing progress.

2. Evolution of digital marketing

Digital marketing has had a rapid and steady development in recent years, which many of us have witnessed from a certain point. The evolution of digital marketing is closely linked to advances in technology, whether we are talking about devices or software. 

When computers become a necessity in the business world and people's daily lives, the history of digital marketing takes a 360° turn and begins to focus on digital media to reach people.  

In that sense, the 2000s was the peak point in the digital marketing timeline. With the rise of internet users and the birth of smartphones, customers began to make decisions based on what they found online. 

Leaving aside traditional sales channels, many companies began to see the need to align with the evolution of digital marketing, or they would put their sales at risk. 

Creation of digital marketing techniques

The evolution of traditional marketing towards digital leaves in its wake new tools or technologies that facilitate access to new consumers. For example, in 2003, Google created Google Adsense, a space where publishers can add ads to their blogs for monetization.

Then, Google Analytics was born, a tool responsible for collecting information about users and their behavior on websites to produce and analyze metrics to improve the user experience. Thus, the history of digital marketing began with a focus on creating a connection with the customer.

Later, the era of Inbound Marketing began, which is characterized by the prioritization of user interaction with companies, which means focusing on creating interaction with consumers, by adding value to their lives, for example, through product quality and good care.
In 2005, the history of digital marketing gave rise to the creation of email marketing, replacing telemarketing and direct mail advertising. With this advance, users can choose which advertisements they wish to receive and which they do not wish to receive.

In 2009, the development of digital marketing made the digital tools we mentioned above a necessity for many brands. By this point, large companies had already created their website and started making their first online sales.

3. Digital marketing today

Throughout the history of digital marketing, investing in a digital marketing strategy has never been more necessary than it is today, as digital content is the most in demand in the marketing industry.

Noel Nuez, professor of the digital marketing course from scratch, shares some figures to realize the relevance of digital marketing at this time: 
  • Latin America represents 10% of all Internet users in the world. 
  • More than 90% of users look for reviews to buy products or services. 
  • More than 80% of users have purchased online. 
At this point, everything developed throughout the evolution of digital marketing plays a critical part in the growth of many businesses. Additionally, according to marketing experts, this is a fantastic opportunity to stand out from your competition and grow your brand within your industry.

Nowadays, the analytical tools of digital marketing allow us to know our interest groups in depth. Therefore, developing a digital marketing plan will allow you to design personalized products for your clients and, at the same time, build more effective commercial and advertising strategies. 

The history of marketing thus far shows us the importance of adapting to changes to guarantee our permanence in the market. Now is the time to find the strategies that best suit your business to design an incredible marketing campaign that will help you boost your visibility on the internet.  

4. The future of digital marketing

As we know, the world of marketing is changing. With the rise of social media and the growing popularity of mobile devices, the way businesses reach their customers is evolving. 

As a result, companies like Facebook have begun to evangelize new digital trends like the Metaverse. And as technology continues to advance, new marketing opportunities will emerge. 

For example, augmented reality and virtual reality are already being used by some companies to create innovative and engaging experiences for their customers. As the marketing landscape changes, those who can adapt will be poised to succeed.


Good! Now you know how digital marketing was born and how it has evolved until today. Remember that digital marketing is a very dynamic industry, as new technologies, tools, and platforms are constantly being created to improve people's lives. 

For this reason, it is necessary to always keep up with market innovations to build an effective marketing strategy by adapting the technological developments created over the years to our daily lives.

Keep in mind that, according to the MD Agency, "a digital strategy must include all relevant elements where the target interacts." Therefore, you must know all the areas covered by digital marketing to get the best results.

Good luck! 


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