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Home Blog The Evolution of Digital Marketing Part 1: The Digital Inception 1990 - 1999

The Evolution of Digital Marketing Part 1: The Digital Inception 1990 - 1999

The Evolution of Digital Marketing Part 1: The Digital Inception 1990 - 1999

“I believe the more you know about the past, the better you are prepared for the future.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In a constantly changing technological world, it can often be easier to shift our focus to the future, at the expense of our past. Although a key creator of innovation, this race to get ahead can undermine the important advances of the digital marketplace. First developed in the early 1990’s, the evolution of digital marketing has served as an increasingly necessary tool for advertising. In a survey of CMOs in 2016, one-third believed that digital would account for 75 percent of their marketing spend in the next five years. However, executives are still hesitant in embracing their company’s place within the evolving online world. When developing their future marketing strategy, 42 percent of executives have cited that “managing change” is the biggest barrier in implementing digital business initiatives. To combat this, it is imperative to first look at how the digital marketing world has evolved since its inception almost 30 years ago.

With a careful look at the past, VGM Forbin presents the first of our three part blog series studying the evolution of digital marketing.  Armed with this information, businesses can begin to understand how these trends will influence, not only the present, but also the future of advertising.

The Beginning of a New Era

Digital marketing began to take shape in the early 90’s with the launch of the first search engine, Archie, in 1990. Referred to as Web 1.0, the first stage of the World Wide Web consisted of web pages connected by hyperlinks.  The first web-ad clickable banner went live in 1993, creating a gateway into the new digital era of marketing. Due to this, 1994 experienced great technological strides both in e-commerce and with the launch of Yahoo. It also saw the birth of VGM Forbin as a dialup internet provider. Although dialup had been in existence since the 1980’s, the expansion of this service by providers further helped prompt internet access to consumers, peaking in the mid to late 90’s. Driven by availability, search engine sites began to see an increase in traffic, prompting companies to optimize their websites to receive higher search ranks to further appeal to consumers.

Following the advanced popularity of search engine sites, several small engines such as HotBot and LookSmart hit the market in 1996. Shortly after this development, the first social media site,, launched in 1997. At the same time, became a registered domain before officially being releasing to the online community in 1998. To stay competitive with this new player, Microsoft launched MSN and Yahoo released Yahoo web search. As businesses continued to adjust to the online market, VGM Forbin underwent a transformation to help address the new digital needs of the upcoming millennium. In 1999, Forbin became a new acquisition of the VGM Group and started to transition its focus to specialized website development and online marketing. With increased competition, these services became imperative for businesses to help capitalize on the changing technological landscape.

As the decade concluded, buoyed by the new addition of broadband internet in public spheres, economists were bubbling with excitement over the increased availability of the World Wide Web. Over 200 internet companies went public in 1999, collectively raising close to $20 billion in revenue.  However, the advent of so many competitors and ad spend begin to increase the internet bubble, leaving the year 2000 in a state of reevaluation.

Lessons Learned

Although the small search engine sites that populated the 1990’s internet landscape have long past their prime, the lessons of the era remain relevant in how we shape digital marketing today. The decade served as a key reminder of the importance of embracing change. With a keen eye on the future and a commitment to pursuing quality over quantity, we can continue to develop effective ways to communicate, and remain vigilant in avoiding tantalizing technological fads. At VGM Forbin, we are dedicated to creating the customized web solution you need to keep your business ahead. By placing an emphasis on personalized customer service, we are ready to help your team embrace the ever-evolving digital world. Contact us today to find out how we can help your business grow.

VGM Forbin. We do web stuff.