History of Digital Marketing

Throughout the centuries there are key events that have shaped our definition of marketing and this unique form of communication between company and consumer.

Although not a new concept, marketing has evolved significantly since the start of the digital age. With the internet boom and the creation of different online mediums, digital marketing has either accompanies or has entirely replaced traditional, offline marketing.

Take a read through our interactive MintTwist Digital Timeline and discover more about these pivotal moments.

Online Ad Spend Reaches New Heights    

Global ad spend on desktop and mobile now accounts for 28% of all advertising spend – more than newspapers, billboards, magazines, radios and cinema.

Instagram Ads For All    

Instagram advertising, which was previously only available to large brands, is now rolled out for all brands. The Facebook advertising platform is used for audience targeting, so advertisers creating ads don’t have to worry about learning how to target audiences on a new channel. 

YouTube Launches ‘Red’    

Subscribers of YouTube Red can pay and watch videos without having to view any ads. Users no longer have to wait 5 seconds to skip ads and watch YouTube videos with no interruption, instantaneously. 

Facebook Reaches 1 Billion Users    

In a landmark achievement, Facebook is the first social network to hit 1 billion active users in a single day. Congratulations! 

Pinterest Launches Buyable Pins    

Buyable pins were first introduced in the US. This allows users to buy products without leaving the Pinterest platform. 

Facebook Buys WhatsApp    

Facebook bought Whatsapp, the mobile-messaging channel, for $22 billion in 2014. At the same time, the tech start-up had 400 million active users. In 2013, the platform generated $10.2 million revenue. 

Google Pigeon Is Launched    

Google’s most recent algorithm update changed local search results and modified how location search queries are understood by the search engine, making it easier for users to discover what was “near them.” 

Facebook Launches Video Ads    

To stay on equal footing with the various ways to advertise on social media, Facebook released a new way to advertise on the platform- premium video ads, each 15 seconds long.

Google Introduces the ‘Disavow Tool’    

Google introduced ‘Disavow Tool’ to assist websites maintain page rankings despite spammy and poor authority inbound links.

Online Ad Spend Tops Newspaper Ad Spend    

It was the first time, since digital advertising became an option for brands and companies, that the budgets advertisers spent online tops advertising spent in traditional mediums, such as newspapers. 

Instagram Now Sells Ad Space    

Instagram started selling ads in late 2013 to top brands such as Levi’s and Disney. The advertising options include photos, video ads to direct web links.

Google releases their Hummingbird algorithm    

In August 2013, Google released Hummingbird, its latest algorithm update. The update affected semantic searches.

Penguin 2.0 Rolls Out    

The Penguin 2.0 amend is released to little apparent impact. Digital marketers are unsure what the major changes are, bit it is suggested that the amend occurred at page level.  

Twitter For All    

Twitter advertising is released for all businesses, whether small, medium or large. Previous to 2013, only large companies with global followings were able to take advantage of Twitter’s advertising offer. 

Enhanced Campaigns In AdWords    

Google AdWords launches enhanced campaigns to support better multi-device user experiences.

Universal Analytics Is Released    

The release of universal analytics was beneficial to digital marketers globally. Universal analytics allowed users to connect multiple devices, to track data more accurately and create custom metrics. 

Facebook Buys Instagram    

Facebook purchased Instagram, the popular photo sharing social network for $1 billion. Mark Zuckerberg stated, “We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagram on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook. This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all.”

More Users Check Emails On Their Smartphones    

A significant 40% of consumers check and read their emails through their smartphone. This requires brands and companies to up their mobile marketing and mobile optimisation, to guarantee that traffic to site converts accordingly.  



Facebook Launches Promoted Posts    

Paying as little as $5, with Facebook’s new advertising option, advertisers are able to reach more fans to promote their page content, with promoted posts shown on the regular News Feed.

Google Penguin Algorithm Is Introduced    

In April 2012, Google launched the Penguin update. This latest algorithm allowed the search engine to better catch sites that resulted in spammy search results, especially sites that used blackhat means to receive inbound links. 

Google Search Result ‘Not Provided’    

Google began to mark searches made on secure Google pages as ‘Not Provided’. This update stops digital marketers from viewing which search query brought relevant traffic to site or app.  

Real-Time Analytics    

Google’s Real-Time analytics provides up-to-the-minute data on what is currently happening on a brand or company’s site or app. Data is updated seconds after an action is taken on the site or app. 

Marketing Automation Begins To Expand    

Marketing automation, particularly in email marketing, began to take off.

Google+ Rolls Out    

Hopping on the social media bandwagon, Google launched its own social network, Google+ in 2011. Google+ is Google’s fourth attempt at creating a popular social channel. 

Snapchat Is Launched    

Snapchat, an incredibly popular social platform with younger audiences, is launched. Snapchat is an instant image massaging channel, created by students from Stanford University. 

Google’s Latest Algorithm    

Constantly testing and releasing new algorithms to guarantee that searchers receive the most relevant information, Google launched its latest algorithm, Panda. The algorithm requires sites to feature rich content.