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evolution of digital marketing

The English dictionary defines evolution as a “process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse state to a higher, more complex, or better state.” So, evolution is growth in a positive direction. A similar evolution took place in the marketing world when Internet usage increased. Businesses realised huge opportunities in marketing over the Internet. The digital marketing age began, and soon enough, it became an influential tool companies use worldwide.

Digital marketing is marketing done via the Internet or by any digital means. Many digital marketing methods exist, such as social media, email, web-based advertising, etc.

Marketers have long been working on using digital marketing. It helps them find the right audience and market their brands and products efficiently. However, the most significant benefit of digital marketing is how cheap it is. All you need is an investment of a few thousand rupees to create engaging SEO content and quality social media posts, making it the go-to marketing device for small businesses owners.

The rapid evolution of digital marketing is a beautiful story. By the time you finish reading this article, you will be able to appreciate the impact digital marketing continues to create as far as advertising and marketing are concerned.



digital marketing transformation

Digital marketing has existed for so much more longer than you think. The term was first used in the 1990s when personal computers started becoming very popular. Due to this, new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) services were developed to collect and store customer data, leading to a new way of marketing. 

Hotwired was an online version of the popular tech magazine Wired. In 1994, it published the first clickable web banner ad for telecom company, AT&T. It was an instant hit. 44% of the people who saw the ad clicked on it.

Jerry Yang founded Yahoo! In the same year. The search engine got over 1 million hits in its first year. Businesses saw massive potential in this sudden popularity of search engines and began optimising their websites for better search results ranking. By 1996, the development of more search engines like Alexa, Hotbot, and LookSmart made websites even more discoverable.

With the birth of Google in 1998, key players like Google, Yahoo, and MSN wiped out smaller search engines. The Internet also became highly accessible to users, which changed their purchasing behaviour. They began to search for products online before making a decision.

Web 2.0 in the early 2000s made digital marketing even more impactful, emphasising users becoming more active than passive. It allowed people to collaborate over the Internet in different ways, such as through interactive websites and social media. Information flow increased exponentially. Revenue from digital marketing in the US alone became $2.9 billion.

The advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Myspace in 2004 opened up more significant opportunities in digital marketing. It enabled businesses to reach global audiences more quickly and efficiently. Facebook reached 1 million users in its first year and started its self-serviced ad platform and business pages. Many other social networking sites followed the same path, giving brands a solid base to market their services and products.

In 2006, the development of cookies led to easy tracking of consumer behaviour online. Marketers now had data on individual users’ browsing habits and usage patterns. This data allowed businesses to customise their promotional content for each user according to their taste and preferences. This helped in targeted marketing, as the Internet had many users.

Smartphones gained massive popularity by the mid-2000s. Different types of mobile marketing became another powerful tool for growth. SMS promotion, push notifications, and in-app marketing became some of the most indispensable ways for a brand to engage with its customers.


digital marketing as a tool

Today, over 71% of businesses have a website. Users can find out products and services at all times digitally. Digital marketing comprehensively uses old and new Web 2.0 elements and features for powerful marketing plans and campaigning.

Social media has become a potent tool for marketers to create more targeted and personalised content. In India, the average person spends around two and a half hours daily on different social media. Businesses use this vast potential in different types of mobile marketing to their advantage by connecting, enaging and interacting with their potential users and customers through content on social media.

Email marketing tools are a significantly underrated part of digital marketing that is gradually becoming popular. Brands have started to realise the ability and reach of an effective email marketing campaign to introduce and familiarise audiences to their services and products without being invasive.

Video marketing is also becoming a favourite among marketers. Unlike traditional TV ads, video marketing focuses on posting content that feels more real to people. Brands and businesses are trying to generate video content that shows what their brand stands for so that the audience can relate to it on a personal level.

There are number of free AI tools for digital marketing that is widely used in various aspects. AI chatbots have gained popularity in digital marketing in the last five years. These chatbots interact with users on the basis of predefined scenarios or by implementing AI. Chatbots are beneficial as they ensure 24/7 customer service to your users.

The emergence of digital marketing as a tool is very fast-paced and advanced. Today, businesses are shifting from conventional marketing methods to digital marketing. In no time, digital marketing will take over traditional marketing as a faster, better, optimised tool for advertising and branding.

Technological advancements have made digital marketing a thriving industry. Soon, an increased integration of AI tools and technologies can make content creation faster and more interactive.

The increasing popularity of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality gives marketers better opportunities and potential to integrate marketing strategies in VR and AR. Metaverse from Facebook has already paved the way for this through 3D advertising. 

Cryptocurrencies may rise in popularity quite soon. They can help people pay online more quickly.

Voice assistants like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri are popular now. Marketers also want to promote their business through voice-based devices through contextual listening and active interaction.

Thus, the emergence of digital marketing as a tool is fast-paced and advanced. Today, businesses are shifting from conventional marketing to digital marketing. In no time, digital marketing will take over traditional marketing as a faster, better, and optimised tool for advertising and branding.


Here is a timeline of how marketing transitioned into digital means as the Internet grew. You can clearly see how fast the growth takes place; within the span of just 10- 15 years. Each year has a significant milestone that boosted digital marketing into a powerful business tool.

  • 1990: The term “Digital Marketing” was first used. 
  • 1993: The first clickable online ad banner was introduced.
  • 1994: Search engine Yahoo! founded. Companies explore SEM.
  • 1996: Other search engines like Alexa, Hotbot, and Looksmart launched.
  • 1998: Google first developed. Google, Yahoo, and MSN completely dominate the search engine industry.
  • 2000: Web 2.0 comes into play.
  • 2002: LinkedIn was founded.
  • 2004: Gmail launched, and Facebook goes live.
  • 2005: Youtube launched
  • 2006: Twitter launched
  • 2007: iPhone launched and revolutionises mobile phone technology
  • 2010: Apps like WhatsApp and Instagram launched
  • 2011: Global Internet usage overtakes TV viewership
  • 2012: Facebook reaches 1 billion users.
  • 2013: Instagram launches ads
  • 2014: Global smartphone usage exceeds PC
  • 2017: Tiktok launched
  • 2018: Instagram reaches 1 billion users
  • 2020: Covid 19 pandemic takes ecommerce and digital marketing five years ahead
  • 2021: Almost all marketing activities heavily rely on social media
  • 2024: AI chatbots & tools like ChatGPT reshape how we use the Internet.


5 d's of digital marketing

1. Digital Data

Digital data is data marketers collect and analyse to understand user behaviour and choices better. It may be collected through lead forms, surveys, apps, etc.

2. Digital Technology

Digital technology uses high-end technology to improve customer engagement and interaction. Examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR).

3. Digital Platforms

Websites, social media sites, and search engines are digital platforms for businesses to boost their online presence and interact with audiences.

4. Digital Media

Businesses use digital media channels for highly effective advertising. These may be owned (your blog, website, social media pages), paid (in-app ads, display ads, video ads), or earned (online mentions, reviews, word of mouth)

5. Digital Devices

Audiences use digital devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops to interact with digital content.


The evolution of digital marketing has come a long way in the last 25 years. It is a field with massive scope and is predicted to thrive shortly. Digital marketing is quickly becoming a specialised, skill-based industry with many job opportunities. Experts consider digital marketing as an absolute neccesity for businesses to grow. The scope of digital marketing in India is particularly high due to the growing number of startups and businesses. Various specialisations in digital marketing, like SEO, social media marketing, and PPC advertising, are becoming essential for exposure and leads. The best part of digital marketing career is how quickly you can take up digital marketing courses and upskill yourself. The field of digital marketing promises immense growth to businesses of all kinds, large-scale and small-scale through its many diverse strategies.


1. What is digital marketing? How has it changed over time?

Digital marketing is marketing done over the Internet or through various digital channels and platforms. It has evolved significantly, adapting to technological changes and rapidly shifting user behaviours. From a primarily text-based and static approach, digital marketing has become a dynamic, multimedia, and data-driven discipline. It has become increasingly personalised, interactive, and focused on providing seamless user experience across multiple devices and channels.

2. What role has mobile technology played in shaping digital marketing trends?

Mobile technology has revolutionised digital marketing by enabling greater personalisation, real-time engagement, and seamless integration into consumers’ everyday lives. Marketers who embrace mobile-first strategies are better positioned to reach and connect with their target audience in today’s increasingly mobile-centric world.

3. How has data analytics transformed digital marketing practices?

Data analytics has completely transformed the concept of digital marketing practices by enabling marketers to make better and accurate data-driven conclusions, personalise ideal digital marketing plans, properly optimise campaigns for better results, and gain valuable insights into customer behaviour.