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.

A DeepMind AI from Google beats Go champion Lee Se-dol for the third straight time at playing the ancient Chinese board game of Go    

Google’s AlphaGo computer program has won a third and decisive encounter with a top-ranked player of the Chinese board game Go in a victory marking significant developments in artificial intelligence. Lee Sedol, who is the world’s second best player of the strategy game, lost three games in a row in Seoul to AI program. Google’s DeepMind computer program won $1m through the victory, marking significant development in artificial intelligence.

Three nano-technologists win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for building miniature machines out of molecules    

This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists who figured out how to build tiny machines out of molecules. The machines, which include a nano-sized car, are invisible to the human eye and have important implications in medicine and other fields. These machines are molecules with tiny movable parts that move in controlled ways and are a thousand times thinner than a strand of hair. The actual development of the machines by today’s Nobel laureates was a big step forward for nanotechnology and may be useful in medicine and energy storage.

Facebook starts blocking the use of ad blocking extensions    

Facebook has started forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop website, even if they use ad-blocking software. The social network announced that it will change the way advertising is loaded into its desktop website to make its ad units considerably more difficult for ad blockers to detect. Vice President of Facebook’s ads and business platform Andrew “Boz” Bozworth said that, “Facebook is ad-supported. Ads are a part of the Facebook experience; they’re not a tack on.” The move risks turning off some of Facebook’s 1.7 billion monthly users who prefer not to see ads while browsing the internet.

Google releases “Possum”    

Google’s ‘Possum’ algorithm was quietly released into the stratosphere. “Possum” is the name given to an unconfirmed but documented update which to most significantly impact Google’s local pack and local finder results. The update occurred on 1 September 2016, but since the update was never officially confirmed by Google, local SEOs have been left to hypothesize about the potential update’s purpose and concrete effects. The impacts of “Possum” have led to filtered results based on affiliation and businesses beyond city borders moving up in SEO rankings.

Twitter announces that it would be discontinuing the Vine mobile app    

Twitter Inc. announced that it would discontinue the video-sharing mobile app Vine, as it moves to cut nine per cent of its workforce worldwide to keep costs down after beating Wall Street quarterly earnings expectations. The decision came on the heels of a failed attempt to sell Twitter as it fights against stagnant user growth and mounting competition from other social media platforms. The social media service said that the Vine website would stay live even after the mobile app is discontinued, giving users the chance to download and save any videos.

Yahoo discontinues its services for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris    

Yahoo! announced today that it will shut down the infrastructure behind the legacy Yahoo! Messenger desktop client, after it stopped providing it as a downloadable option in April. The company stated that as of 5 August 2016, users of the Yahoo! Messenger desktop clients won’t be able to log into their accounts anymore. Despite this, the web & mobile versions continued.

Microsoft acquires LinkedIn for $26.2 billion    

Microsoft made one of its boldest moves by spending more than $26 billion on LinkedIn. It comes after a series of high-profile failures, such as Microsoft’s doomed $6 billion acquisition of the Nokia. This new deal means Microsoft can embed LinkedIn with Skype, its email system, and other enterprise products. It was later revealed that Microsoft had acquired LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman as a CEO.

Snapchat launches Discover section    

Snapchat now has a Discover feature, which will let you see content from brands like ESPN, CNN, Vice and Warner Music. Users are now able to watch daily stories compiled by artists, publishers, and even Snapchat’s own editorial staff. These stories feature full screen photos & videos, awesome long form layouts, and gorgeous advertising. This update reflects Snapchat’s goal to monetize faster.

Twitter ups its video length to 140 seconds    

Twitter, known for its 140-character limit on tweets, is now allowing users to post longer videos – of up to 140 seconds. Twitter previously restricted videos to 30 seconds, and the change highlights the company’s new push into video, an area where it lags in comparison to Facebook and YouTube

Instagram adds the Stories feature    

Instagram’s new Stories feature works very similarly to Snapchat stories. The format mixes the 10-second max display of photos and videos with the 24-hour life duration. The Stories allow for users to share content that might not be suitable for their regular Instagram feeds. It allows for people to share more content than they usually would without the risk of possibly compromising their personal profiles’ aesthetic.

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.