The Evolution of Digital Marketing: A Look at the Past and Future

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The Evolution of Digital Marketing: A Look at the Past and Future

In 2018, SharpNet, a leading SEO company, celebrated its 20th anniversary. It was a chance to reflect on the journey of digital marketing since the inception of the company. This journey has been nothing short of revolutionary. Here's a look at where we stand today and what lies ahead in the digital world.

Two decades ago, I was working as a process engineering specialist at Agilent Technology, a spin-off from Hewlett Packard. Amidst lay-offs and uncertainty, I decided to take charge of my future and started an SEO company – SharpNet. As fate would have it, my previous department at Agilent was shut down within a year. Investing in SharpNet was indeed the best decision.

The concept of SEO wasn't prevalent back then; there wasn't even an acronym for it. There were numerous challenges such as lack of industry categorization for insurance purposes and scarcity of experienced workforce. The internet was still in its infancy; misunderstood yet full of potential. Pushing through challenges and critics alike, I helped pioneer this new frontier called 'digital'.

Digital Marketing Changed the WorldInitially, the web world was dominated by Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite, HotBot, Ask Jeeves and DogPile (yes DogPile!). Google was launched in 1998 but remained in beta till 1999 when it started gaining attention. The first Pay Per Click platform came from which later became Overture before being acquired by Yahoo. Google didn't want to be left behind either and launched AdWords in response.

There were three major hurdles that digital industry had to overcome:

(1) Security Concerns: People were initially skeptical about shopping online. With time, everyone got comfortable with it. Today, Amazon stands as a testament to that transition.

(2) High Speed Internet: The internet wouldn't have been possible without fast and affordable high-speed internet. Think about it, without high speed internet there would be no streaming of movies, slow loading of shopping sites and no smartphones or GPS.

(3) The Dot Com Boom: The first decade of the internet was tumultuous with many calling it 'sketchy'. The Dot Com boom only added fuel to this skepticism and stalled many innovations for a while.

Despite the trials and tribulations, the rise of the internet was inevitable. Minor setbacks only proved to be speed bumps in its momentum. Accompanied by digital marketing, it brought about a technological revolution akin to evolution and warfare at the same time. It took on traditional marketing mediums such as Print and TV leading to upheaval in various sectors. Today digital presence and appeal is as important as having a professional storefront.

Amazon stands tall as one of the greatest achievements of this digital era despite being a retailer with no physical storefronts. It ranks 7th in market capitalization surpassing Walmart, and is only getting started.

The future of Digital marketing will stride alongside the progression of the Internet. Artificial Intelligence (AI), already being used by Google's project/product 'RankBrain', represents the next leap in this progression. AI will make websites smarter, they will know your preferences related to reading material or ads thus personalizing your experience.

We are moving towards an era where searches will be preempted by AI offering you choices even before you realize you need them. This new age of smart websites will offer personalized experiences like never before - think rearranging their entire layout based on individual visitor's preferences. That’s how advanced and personal digital marketing is set to become.