A brief story of the evolution of Internet adverting

December 13, 2018
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A brief story of the evolution of Internet adverting

The origins of advertising date back in a very distant time. Publicity exists since civilization and commerce origins. This shows that there has always been an obvious need to communicate, and in the beginning, word-of-mouth advertising was the most common. However,  in this post, we are going to disarrange the history of internet advertising, which is the most powerful nowadays.

Taking into account the volume of the actual internet advertising market, it seems surprising to see how young in actually is.  Moreover, although digital advertising has had a short journey, it’s history is one the most intense. It is one of the biggest revolutions in the history of marketing.

Let’s put ourselves in the situation. At the beginning of 90s, investment in online marketing was almost null. In a matter of one year, from 1994 to 1995, it increased more than 300 million dollars. Also, in 2014, online advertising investment reached 121 million.

Do you know how much has been invested in digital advertising in 2016? 754,7 millions of euros, according to the last published data by IBA (Internet Advertising Bureau).

During all this time Google has dominated Digital advertising through it’s advertising in Adwords. However, What can you tell me about social networks?, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube… they have changed everything, including the history of internet advertising. From the way we communicate to advertising strategies. Do you know how everything started?

A brief story of digital advertising

When the internet was introduced to the society, back in the 90s, it was never conceived as a means of advertising. It was created as a simple tool for the exchange of electronic mails and digital information. That is to say, the enormous impact that this simple tool would have was still unknown.

Such was it’s great potential that it was not long before the marketing pioneers opened their eyes. They started to see the big business that digital advertising would have. More and more users began to connect trying to search relevant information about their interests. For many advertising managers, this marked a turning point in the history of online advertising.

1.- The banner era (1994-1996)

Shortly after, towards the year 1994, the first advertisements began to appear. Especially in banner form. Also, it was precisely then when advertising was born through keywords  “pay-per-click.” This new form of advertising received much criticism and ridicule from many experts.  However, of course, they still did not know everything that was coming.

It didn’t take long for the first results of that new advertising modality began to be seen. Even the most exotic ads could find their place on the internet. However, companies were the ones who noticed the highest repercussion.

Since then brands left enormous money quantities in their traditional marketing strategies, but when they realized what they could get through the internet, everything changed.

For example, the business started to understand that a message through emails could be more effective than any traditional advertising strategy. Also, it was much cheaper. The history of internet advertising began to revolutionize all kind of communication. As early in 1995, there were about 16 million of users surfing the web.

2.- The channel era (1999-2000)

From the most significant business to the smallest ones, they started to create websites and started to invest money in online marketing strategies with the aim to attract traffic and potential customers to their digital spaces.

In 1997, the first mobile ads arrived, and between 1995 and 2000 years 8.2 billion dollars were invested in online advertising. It was also in this decade when the revolution of pop-ups started.

One of the most determinant movements in the evolution of the history of internet advertising was the emergence of Adwords. Google launched it’s ad system and revolutionized advertising forever in the year 2000.

3.- The social era (2005-2008)

Another great revolution in the history of internet advertising came in 2005 at the hand of Youtube.  This social network brought to the world a new form of consumer participation. And it is that some of the interactive functions of the videos empowered audiovisual communication. Also, YouTube was a tremendous opportunity for most brands.

What YouTube offered to companies was to promote their products or services in one of the most valued media by consumers: the video.  All this without the need to make a too high investment.  That was the foretaste of what is happening today.

Companies nowadays are displacing television advertising to graphic actions. Now its major priority is digital advertising.  Also, social networks offer them a host of new possibilities to effectively reach all your potential and current customers.

4.- The native era (2009-2011)

In 2009 Google launched a beta version of advertising based in user interest thanks to agreements with websites such as YouTube. Internet advertising grew so much that on September 30, 2009, it overtook television advertising for the first time in the United Kingdom.

Instagram just turned six years and it has not stopped growing. In 2011 hashtags were implemented with the aim of helping users to discover photographs that others shared on the same topic. Subsequently, Mark Zuckerberg bought it in 2011. Since then, it has not stopped growing: web version, videos, direct messages…and advertising. Much advertising.

Twitter is another social network that was created without taking into account using it for advertising. Its communication is based in 140 characters. But it’s constant growing is reaching the status of an advertising power. All thanks to its sponsored twits and trends, the famous trending topics or TT.

In 2009, four years after its launch, it was told that Kim Kardashian received 10.000 dollars per twit. Since then a new advertising market was opened through this platform. In 2010, Twitter presented the sponsored trends and the sponsored twits.

It also launched its “promoted account” feature. Which allowed brands to be included in the “suggested for you” category in the side bar.

In 2011, Charlie Sheen broke a new record. He became the first person to reach a million followers in 25 hours after his account was created. Only a few days after he started to sponsor twits through Ad.ly.

5.- The modern era (2012-…)

Starting 2012 we entered in the modern era of the history of Internet advertising. One of the most significant novelties of the advertising landscape is Snapchat.


According to the eMarketer report “ Snapchat Advertising: A Roadmap of US Bran Marketers and digital Agency Executives, Snapchat currently has about 150 million active users.  A number that will increase to 217 at the end of 2017 given the growth forecasts.

This social network nowadays includes three advertising options:

  1. Snap Ads.
  2. Sponsored Geofilters
  3. Sponsored Lenses

This new social network will allow you to reach a new increasingly complicated audience: the millennials. The future is open to the emergence of new channels and formats that continue to bring novelties in the history of Internet advertising: streaming of videos, vertical social networks, ads in social networks, extended text Adwords ads…

Did you know the changes that the history of online advertising has gone through? In this infographic, you have an exciting summary from 1987 to 2012:

In order to see all the history of Internet advertising in a more graphic and orderly way, these are the most critical steps that have taken place over the years.

  • 1994: The Pay Per Click system appears for the first time.
  • 1997: The first ad appears on a mobile device for the first time. The creator was a Finnish news provider that started to offer news through free SMS sponsored by advertising.
  • 1995 to 2000: about 8.2 billion were invested in online advertising.
  • 2000: The Google AdWords pay-per-click service appears for the first time. This system represents 98% of Google’s revenue today.
  • 2001: Advertising in pop up form started to fill the user’s screens.
  • 2002: The most expensive adverting campaign ever purchased takes place. It was a campaign created by Pepsi. It consisted of a 90 seconds ad by the American singer Britney Spears, and it cost 7,53 million dollars.
  • 2006: YouTube launches video advertising.
  • 2006: Twitter is born, the application of communication “in real time”.
  • 2007: Facebook introduces the concept of advertising based on user behavior, aimed especially at social interactions.
  • 2010: For the first time, viral marketing surpasses traditional advertising, thanks to an advertising campaign of “Old Spice Guy” that received 30 million visits.
  • 2011: The online advertising becomes a clear n 2 in terms of budgetary priority for everyone in advertising.  In general, at the expense of the press and radio.
  • 2014: The online advertising revenue of the Gangnam Style video exceeds 8 million dollars.
  • 2015: Advertising in digital games becomes an excellent platform to strengthen the brand of companies.
  • 2016: Instagram’s social network achieves more than 1,530 million in advertising revenue.

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