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.

Augmented Reality: A New Way to Shop    

Major AR apps started hitting the scene back in 2017, and ever since they’ve become popular with e-commerce giants looking to get behind the technology. Companies like Amazon and Ikea have developed AR apps that are changing the way customers buy their furniture. The technology allows shoppers to view a graphically generated piece of furniture in their room via their phone screens. This ideally gives a customer insight into what their possible buy will look like, a feature that could ultimately reduce the overall number of returns for a company.

Amazon reaches a $1 trillion market cap    

Thanks to hefty investor enthusiasm, Amazon’s stock price has risen enough to make the company briefly worth $1 trillion. The company’s stock briefly hit a $1 trillion market cap Tuesday the 4th of September before falling off and leaving Apple as the only publicly traded U.S. company above the benchmark. Amazon crossed the mark five weeks after Apple reached $1 trillion in early August after posting a strong quarterly report.

Cyber Monday sales exceed $6.5B    

Adobe cited that more than $5B in sales were recorded on Black Friday and $6.5B on Cyber Monday. Retailers were cautiously optimistic too, reporting record-breaking online traffic, and the market rewarded them with increases in stock price on the heels of that good news. Shifts in shopper behavior were clear, as nearly half of all Cyber Monday transactions took place on mobile.

Instagram shoppable posts are introduced    

Instagram launches shoppable posts as it looks to play a bigger role in e-commerce. The social platform’s new feature will allow brands to tag products in content claiming to create a “seamless experience” from post to purchase. Amy Cole, Instagram’s head of business development tells Marketing Week: “Shopping will give a seamless experience for users who want more information on products. They can go through Instagram without having to switch between apps and with a couple of taps buy the product.”

Pinterest Launches Buyable Pins    

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

Buy With Bitcoin    

Bitcoin is introduced as a digital currency. Invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin requires no middleman but allows transactions to occur between seller and buyer directly. 

Zappos Acquired By Amazon    

Clothing site Zappos is acquired by Amazon on 1 January, 2009 for $928 million. 

Google Checkout Debuts    

Google Checkout was launched in 2006 to simplify the online paying process. Allowing users to save their personal information in their Google account, Google Checkout makes the next purchase much easier. However, the function ended in November 2013. 

What’s PCI DSS?    

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was introduced to assist in guaranteeing credit card security and avoid fraudulent online activity in 2004. This global standard covers all the major cards and allows users to better control and protect their personal data. 


Although Amazon was founded almost a decade prior, the site only posted its first yearly profit in 2003.

Never Buy A CD Again    

On 28 April, 2003 Apple launched the iTunes Music Store, an online music store that allows customers to quickly find, purchase and download an exact song or album for a minimal price, without subscription fees.

Google Grants Is Introduced    

Adding to the already massive popularity of Google, Google launches Google Grants, which provides non-profit organisations with $10,000 per month of in-kind AdWords advertising to promote their initiatives.

eBay Acquires PayPal    

The digital tech industry wouldn’t be complete without company buy outs. eBay acquired online payments company PayPal in a deal valued at $1.5 billion. It then phased out its own competing service, eBay Payments. 

mCommerce Is Introduced by Amazon    

Amazon realised the upswing trend of mobile usage. In 2001, Amazon presented a mobile commerce site, with a trolley in the logo.

Victoria’s Secret Debuts    

In 1999 the underwear industry changed for good with the release of the Victoria’s Secret website. In the same year, Victoria’s Secret’s 30 second Super Bowl advertisement led to one million visits to the company’s website within an hour of airing.

The First Online Shop    

You’ll never need to leave your couch again. Zappos.com, an online shoe and clothing shop based in Las Vegas, Nevada, was founded in 1999 by Nick Swinmurn. Swinmurn’s initial inspiration came when he failed to find a pair of brown Airwalks at his local mall. 

The Battle For Ecommerce    

Google and Yahoo, two leading search giants, begin their own eCommerce subsidiaries. Yahoo’s eCommerce store is called Yahoo Stores.

Electronic Postage    

In January 1998, snail mail stamps give way to electronic postal stamps, that can be purchased and used in replacement of traditional stamps. 

Amazon Is Launched    

On May 28, 1996, Amazon was launched and online shopping and streaming was never the same. The company has matured over the years and is now a homebase for purchasing products. 

eBay Is Created    

Back in September 1995, Pierre Omidyar launched a site called ‘Auction Web,’ which evolved into the eBay we know and use today. From the beginning, Omidyar conceived of the site as a marketplace for the sale of goods and services. 

The First Third Party Payment Service Is Born    

In 1994, the first third party payment service for processing online credit cards was released. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) also became the first security technology to establish an encrypted link between a web server and browser. This link ensured that all data that was shared between the server and browser remained confidential. 


Netscape Navigator is a discontinued proprietary web browser. In the 1990s, it was one of the most widely used web browsers. However, by 2002, web users had moved onto other browsers, such as Microsoft’s ‘Internet Explorer.’ 


Buy Your Groceries Online    

In 1989 Peapod, based in the US, launched the first online grocery store. Two brothers, Thomas and Andrew Parkinson, were developing a new way to shop. With DOS programming software, dial-up modems and floppy disks, they created Peapod.com, and shopping from a computer for home-delivered goods was born. 

The Minitel Service Is Invented    

The Minitel was a Videotex online service accessible through telephone lines. It is considered one of the world’s most successful pre-World Wide Web online services. The service was first rolled out in Britanny and then throughout France.