A Quick History of Digital Marketing. Part II: The Internet Era

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With the arrival of the ad server, marketing through the Internet opened new frontiers for advertisers and contributed to the "dot-com" boom of the 1990s. Entire corporations operated solely on advertising revenue, offering everything from coupons to free Internet access.

At the turn of the 21st century, a number of websites, including the search engine Google, started a change in online advertising by emphasizing contextually relevant ads based on an individual's browsing interests. This has led to a plethora of similar efforts and an increasing trend of interactive advertising.[citation needed]


The share of advertising spending relative to GDP has changed little across large changes in media. For example, in the US in 1925, the main advertising media were newspapers, magazines, signs on streetcars, and outdoor posters. Advertising spending as a share of GDP was about 2.9 percent. By 1998, television and radio had become major advertising media.

Nonetheless, advertising spending as a share of GDP was slightly lower – about 2.4 percent.[61] By 1986, ACT!, a contact and customer management company, introduced the first database marketing software to the business world. It was essentially a digital Rolodex, only it could store large volumes of customer contact information.