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Who Were The First Big Retail Companies To Take Advantage Of Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing originated in the 90s. The digital age progressed and advanced with the advent of the information superhighway and Web 1.0. When the internet was first introduced, it was not meant for marketing. It was merely a means of exchanging information through emails. But it did not take advertisers and marketers long to realise this tool could help them to grow their business.  However, it was not till the early 1990s that top retailers saw the value of digital marketing.

  • Heralding the Retail Revolution

In 1990, the first web browser was invented by Tim Berners Lee. It was in 1993 that the National Centre for Supercomputing Apps at Illinois University released Mosaic, a web browser with graphics easy to install and use. Following these ground breaking innovations, the internet soon transformed into a booming marketplace. How did digital marketing come about? When B2B e-commerce took off in the 1970s, it was in 1991 that the National Science Foundation lifted restrictions and limitations for commercial use of the information superhighway. Consequently, online shopping grew over the next few years and the first retail company to utilise digital marketing in a big way was the world’s largest retailer, Amazon in 1995.

Though the initial search engine was technically discovered in 1990 and called Archie, it was in 1994 that modern search engines evolved. The first of these was Lycos. But it was in 1996 that this mode of marketing reached a whole new level with Google.

  • Advent of AdWords and Apple

Once Google launched in the year 1996, the company spearheaded the AdWords initiative in the 2003. This was the first campaign that marketers could employ to fashion ads as per user preferences and formed the core of targeted marketing. It was in the 2000s that Apple evolved the development of third party software and mobile apps with the “i” OS. Consumers can choose how they consume content and businesses started to market products and services through responsive, mobile-first designs.

  • A New Digital Era of Marketing: When eBay and Amazon Led The Way

The history of marketing through the digital medium is incomplete without Amazon and eBay. These were among the leading internet companies to market services and products online and enjoy the buying and selling advantage of internet. Amazon still leads the pack when it comes to online marketing, though other companies like Dell, Staples, HP and Office Depot are also in the mix. The most popular categories of products marketed online include music, computers, books and electronic appliances.

Amazon Inc is one of the leading retail companies to sell products over the internet and was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. At its outset, the company was considered an online bookstore, but it gradually developed into electronics, software, video games, DVDs and CDs, apparel, health products and footwear seller, to name just a few. The company currently operates retail websites and marketing mediums for businesses like Lacoste and Marks & Spencer.

The first eCommerce business to establish an affiliate marketing program, the company generates a massive amount of sales through internet marketing. Research in 2008 has found that 615 million customers visit Amazon sites each year. Most popular aspects of this eCommerce firm’s marketing site is its review system. Customers review and rate products on a rating scale. Amazon also offers clean and useful advanced search facility enabling visitors to search for keywords with ease.

  • Dell: A Leader in Online Marketing and Offline Sales

Another company that contributed to the evolution of marketing through digital media is Dell Inc, a US based company from Texas, which stood third in computer sales within the industry, apart from HP and Acer. In 1994, this company launched a static page. In 1997, just 3 years later, it was the first company to record a million dollars in online sales. The unique strategy of selling foods over the WWW virtual stores found many takers. But Dell’s USP was that it enables customers to have choice and control in that they can browse the site accessing and assembling PCs piece by piece requiring each single component based on requirements and budgets. Approximately half of the company’s profits came from the site. The Fortune magazine in 2007 ranked Dell as the 8th on its yearly list of top 20 most successful and admired US companies!

A new virtual marketplace evolved and grew where the customer gained every advantage. Digital advertising in early days of internet was very different and SEO was simple.  Search engine developers took on the challenge and as AdSense emerged, advertising changed over the years. The customer’s search history was soon used to offer relevant ads in 2010. AdWords evolved the addition of fresh features like extensions, click to call and remarketing.

  • From Banner Ads To Social Media Marketing

Initially, Pathwwway Gambling banner ads were a perfect way to reach the target market. Webmasters soon noticed users were tuning out the ads. So, interruption marketing came to the fore. Webmasters used pop-up ads customers could not miss. They would run videos and interrupt user experience. Native ads came next which looked like part of the site, but were actually content produced by advertisers like Outbrain and Taboola.

But the ultimate evolution came about when social media evolved. In 2007, Facebook introduced advertising via social media channels. Strategists look to target specific persons based on their interest and demographics by running ads on social media channels.

  • Technology Powers Innovation!

The beginning of marketing through internet and online means are traced back to the 80s when computers became sophisticated enough to store massive volumes of customer information. From top retailers like Amazon to eBay, Dell and later Apple, digital adverts took off in a big way. Shift in technologies accompanied a change in mindsets. Pushing products became passé. Relationship marketing prioritised customer connections. List brokering lost out to database marketing. This transformed the buyer-seller relations permitting brands to track customers in new ways. Marketing technology evolved further with Salesforce CRM in the 1990s.  The first clickable banner went live in 1993 when HotWired purchased the banner ads for advertising. This began the transition to digital era of marketing. The watershed year was 1994. With Google and before that, Yahoo’s advent, companies optimised  websites to pull in higher SERP.

Towards the close of 2004, interactive internet advertising and Pathwwway Gambling marketing really caught on and the rest, as they say, is history!