Before the internet age, most companies had to limit themselves to local customers or send their representatives to gain them in other regions. The spread of the Internet network has created completely new opportunities for companies, but it was online marketing who has provided them with the right tools to take them. Companies can sell much more without geographical restrictions, which is why they devote huge parts of their budgets to online advertising, investing more and more in various digital marketing channels every year. How did it all start?
The beginning of online marketing
In 1971, Ray Tomlinson sent the first e-mail. 7 years later, on May 3, 1978, Gary Thuerk, marketing manager at DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), first used this channel for marketing purposes by sending an email to 400 potential customers - Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) users. This was the first case of mass emailing, which is currently associated mainly with spam. In January 1994, Mark Eberra founded the first email marketing company. At the same time, he created the Direct Email Marketing Association, which was to ensure that Internet users won't be flooded with unwanted messages.
The first banner ad
In 1993, the first Internet browser supporting graphics was created - Mosaic. As a result, online advertising could take the form of images. In the same year, Global Network Navigator sold the first clickable internet advertisement to a law firm in Silicon Valley. The first graphic advertising banner, however, appeared a year later - October 27, 1994 in the online magazine HotWired. The "YOU WILL" campaign promoted AT&T (formerly the American Telephone and Telegraph Company) - an American telecommunications company, and the banner itself, with dimensions of 468 x 60 pixels, was designed by TANGENT Design. AT&T has paid $ 30,000 for a small, graphic advertisement on the HotWired.com homepage (now Wired.com), and the concept itself can be considered a precursor of content marketing. The banner contained the inscription "Have you ever clicked your mouse right here?" and the answer "YOU WILL" and its goal was to create the right AT&T image. Therefore, after clicking on the banner, it didn’t redirect to the AT&T site, but launched a virtual tour of the seven most famous art museums in the world. For the first four months of broadcasting, it’s clickthrough rate was 44 percent! You can see this first graphic advertising banner in the picture below.
The concept of affiliate marketing was created by William J. Tobin, founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. In 1994, in cooperation with IBM, which owned half of Prodigy's website, he launched the beta version of the virtual version of his company, and a year later PC Flowers & Gifts already had 2,600 marketing partners on the Internet. This allowed the development of a business model based on the payment of sales commissions.
At the same time, affiliate marketing developed in the music industry. One of the first affiliate programs called BuyWeb was launched by CDNow in November 1994. Websites devoted to music recommended CDs on their pages that might appeal to their users, in return receiving commission payment. Such websites also often placed links to CDNow.
Two years later, in 1996, DoubleClick appeared, an online advertising agency that helped businesses find relevant websites, and showed websites how to make money from advertising. Their secret weapon was the D.A.R.T system (dynamic advertising, reporting and targeting), which helped advertisers monitor their campaigns. DoubleClick was the first to introduce the CPM model - cost per mile (cost per 1000 views), which allowed advertisers to pay for effects, not just buying advertising space.
In the 90s, two Stanford University students - Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a piece of code - "Backrub" - which categorized the links of all available websites. As a result, they have developed a solution that uses link indexing, keyword analysis and PageRank and because of that was able to determine the most relevant search results. The name of the project was quickly changed to Google. This popular search engine used its five minutes and quickly expanded its offer with online advertising. In 2000, Google launched premium sponsorship and the AdWords platform, and in 2003 - AdSense - a platform that allows publishers to place ads on their pages and earn from generated clicks and impressions. However, the first keyword auction in search results took place in 1998. It was carried out by GoTo.com, acquired by Yahoo! in 2003.
Above we talked a little about the beginnings of e-marketing, specifically several areas (such as email marketing, banner ads, affiliate marketing and Google Ads). Discussing all the channels and directions in which online marketing developed would be a very difficult task, especially since this progress was (and still is) very dynamic and occurred simultaneously in several places. Companies quickly discovered how great marketing potential is dormant on the internet.