Digital Marketing Then and Now

Digital marketing asset showing keyboard typing and engagement icons

New Year’s Day, 1983, saw the birth of mankind’s greatest invention arguably since the Gutenberg printing press — the internet. Like the Marconi wireless machine, the HAM radio, and the telephone before it, mankind had found another way to revitalize how we can communicate with one another over long distances. Of course, the internet was more than a way for people to talk to one another through cyberspace. It became a repository for all of our knowledge and experience as a species. Now, it is an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an information desk, a shopping mall, an office, a social club, and an arcade, all rolled into one.

Each time one of these watershed moments of ingenuity comes around, a universal truth is laid bare: as certain as death and taxes is self-promotion. Just as contest winners at the turn of the 20th Century were getting to send telegrams to a wireless machine across the Atlantic, or campaign candidates began using the telephone to call constituents directly in order to drum up election votes, the internet became the newest — and greatest — tool for marketing firms in Utah and across the globe. 

The Early Days of Digital Marketing

Today, the concept of PPC as a vehicle for data-driven advertising is a basic marketing principle. But in the mid-80s to early-90s, the first marketing companies, progenitors to Gravitate One, didn’t know exactly what they were dealing with or how well using the internet as a means of reaching their audience was going to work. After spending the 80s getting the internet’s infrastructure set up, as well as establishing some ground rules to be enforced by the then-named Internet Configuration Control Board (now known as the Internet Activities Board), businesses and entrepreneurs were ready to strike out into this new frontier to begin marketing their wares. Think of it as a sort of “digital Manifest Destiny.”

The 1990s — The Gloves Come Off

As soon as the new decade began, the powers that be started relaxing the restrictions that had been in place to keep the internet from becoming a vehicle for commercial use. With what little leeway was given, creative minds started exploring ways to get their brands out in front of the world. The first clickable banner ad, for instance, was created in 1993, and by 1994 Yahoo! was launched. By the end of April 1995, all restrictions had been lifted, and “digital marketing,” both as a phrase and as a concept, was coined.

The 1990s remained a time of stratospheric growth for Utah’s marketing firms and advertising houses around the world. Some of the most notable events of the decade include:

  • Computer products began selling like multi-platinum records, and products like Windows 95 from Microsoft became a megahit.
  • Search engines became a competitive space in 1996 with the establishment of multiple businesses to battle Yahoo!, companies like HotBot and LookSmart. Thus, SEO was born.
  • Google was founded in 1998. 

Digital Marketing Reaches Billions

As the world entered the new millennium, the doors had well and truly been blown off the internet’s marketing machine. With the launch of Web 2.0, more people began conversing both with each other and with their favorite businesses, and the internet as a place with the human experience was taking place really came into focus. 

Along with such an influx of people, which had now seen search engines’ daily output exceed well past a billion queries, came the one thing that marketing firms like Gravitate One and others had been searching for: money. Lots of money; billions of dollars worth of revenue from digital advertising alone. With so much money to be made, arguably the most important market for communicating and documenting our lives was established: social media. 

  • Myspace was created in 2003, which homogenized the process of staking out a place to call one’s own on the internet.
  • This, of course, led to Facebook in 2004, the most powerful social media website in existence today.
  • YouTube and the craze of video marketing began in 2005, which sees billions of hours of videos consumed every day.
  • Twitter, the world’s biggest global forum, was started in 2006. 

It becomes clear as one looks at the timeline that when the internet is involved, time, technology, and innovation just moves faster; things seemingly happen all at once. And in the middle of it, all are the Utah marketing firms like Gravitate One who are there to make sense of the digital marketing trends of today. 

Making Your Mark

Like the very universe in which our galaxy resides, the internet is expanding ever outwards, redefining the human experience and how we live, love, and work in the Digital Age. There is no reason why your business shouldn’t take a piece of that pie for yourself, and Gravitate One will help you get it. With a dynamic portfolio of work, we set our clients up for success as they ride this wave of digital marketing into the future.