Past, Now and Future: The History of Digital Marketing

10 June 2019

The rapid growth of technology, especially on the social media aspect has given the traditional marketplace a run for their money in the past thirty years. When the first PC was available for purchase, the rules in the marketing game were permanently changed. Marketers had to quickly adapt to the rapid growth of social media platforms and the new ways of digital marketing to survive in the competitive world.


Past

The biggest event that happened in the past thirty years was probably the mass adaption of the Internet. This broke the traditional communication walls and allowed information to be sent to an audience that was no longer limited by geographic position. Afterward, marketers turned to early SEO strategies in order to promote company websites and business updates. Email marketing was also an original form of digital marketing that surfaced long before social media as we know it today. In 1996, small search engines like HotBot, LookSmart, and Alexa were launched. Today, these search engines are unheard of, but back then they were the cream of the crop for SEO. The first social media site went online in 1997, and Google came into the world year later. 2001 was probably the landmark of digital marketing as Universal Music released the very first official digital marketing campaign in the world.

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Then things went into a frenzy with WordPress being released 2003, as well as MySpace. The next year, Facebook went live. Bye-bye Tom! In 2005, YouTube became a reality, followed by Twitter in 2006. Amazon casually made $10 billion in e-com sales that year. Most of the major players we know nowadays were launched between 2008 to 2010: Instagram, Tumblr, Spotify, Whatsapp, Pinterest, even Groupon. Digital Marketers started hustling to develop new strategies in response to how consumers started interacting and communicating. Back then the SEO techniques were primitive (eg: keyword stuffing and fake backlinks) compared to the more scientific SEO methods used nowadays. Therefore, it is crucial for marketers to understand digital marketing’s current state.


Now

In 2017, the total digital ad spend on campaigns surpassed $77.37 billion, accounting for 38.4% of the nation’s total ad spending. APIs, Chatbots, and virtual assistants became more popular among digital marketers.

Some infamous examples included Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and ManyChat for Messenger. Automation is steadily being engrained into our culture. For example, the autoplay feature when scrolling down on Facebook videos and the virtual dash buttons within Amazon have once again changed the way we live. Also, video searches have increased on major engines as well. As a result, videos have become the most crucial part of digital marketing campaigns since late 2016 and early 2017.

Another underlying issue that needs to be addressed and tackled by digital marketers is the increasing urge for consumer interaction. In other words, consumers desire interaction with brands, and with the surge of social media sites, this desire has been made attainable. When designing a campaign interaction must be at the forefront for digital marketers. Engagement is a direct correlation of a succeeding campaign. With new social media apps popping up every day, digital marketers need to quickly adapt. Also, voice searches have skyrocketed in 2017, which means companies and marketers have a new medium to communicate with consumers.

However, the sea of digital marketing is never calm. Since the second half of 2017, Artificial Intelligence, or machine learning, has become a force to reckon with in the online world. Algorithms are updated to provide more accurate, personalized results through the learning of user behaviors. So what this means is that a machine might know the consumer better than an experienced marketer. Facebook and Google, the leading tech giants, accounted for 70% of the digital market. They have acquired technologies that allow marketers to personalize campaigns and ads in response to the latest technology developments. Eventually, marketers should ask the question: Is AI coming after me?


Future

Artificial Intelligence that can understand consumer preference could definitely be challenging to digital marketers, especially when they are the ones running the search engine algorithm. Machine learning has the greater potential to customize on the user’s end, yet also making it more difficult for digital marketers to create an effective campaign.

Also, voice search will continue to grow. Therefore, SEO strategies need to adapt to the fact that actual users speak differently from SEO targeted keywords and phrases. In other words, real people don’t speak in keywords. They use natural languages when doing voice search as if they were speaking to a real person. Digital marketers need to respond to this user habit in order to ensure their SEO campaigns receive a higher rating and priority in the search engine results.

However, this does not mean that SEO is dead. This is just a clear indicator that SEO will have a significant piece of the digital marketing arsenal. It is an industry that is always changing and developing as new keywords are incorporated and the most challenging thing of digital marketing is predicting what people will search next.

Finally, social media sites will continue to improve, especially with algorithms that filter out the unwanted posts. Therefore creating unique pieces of content should be the only form of marketing a brand as a whole. Only the most relevant, related and accurate information will be pushed up by Google.


Conclusion

Digital marketing is not an easy field. Marketers are being refined in response to the rapid development of technologies. In order to be on top of algorithm updates, digital marketers must provide exceptional content with 2018 relevant keywords in order to rank high. On the other hand, the charming effect of voice search on our culture and the brilliant machine learning AIs pose new challenges for marketers. In short, digital marketers need to make more fitting SEO campaigns, produce higher quality ads and compete against artificial intelligence (AI) in the future.