Online Advertising Over the Years

History of Online Advertising

7 min readFeb 9, 2020

1. First online advertisement. (1994)

Out of all the adverts available, online advertising is the most lucrative. It began on October 27, 1994. The first form of online advertising was banner ads. A magazine named hotwire launched its website, and with the site, they offered advertising space. AT&T was the first company to purchase the advertising space for thirty thousand dollars for three months. During these three months, they received a click-through rate of 44%. Nowadays, the same advertisement only has a click-through rate of .06%!

2. Smarter use of advertisement. (1995)

Later, companies began to find a better way of advertising. Instead of buying space on any given web page, they began to target their audience. With the help of companies like WebConnect (a company specialized in online ads), this was possible. This helped both the companies buying the advertisement space and web page owners. The companies reached a more relevant audience, and the web pages were showing ads that related more to their visitors. WebConnect also had a CustomView tool, which regulated the number of times a user is shown a given ad. This was to help prevent banner fatigue. After a user had seen an ad several times, they begin not to notice it.

3. Doubleclick (1996)

Double click was a company that offered R.O.I. tools and offered D.A.R.T. to advertisers. Dart made it possible to track the interaction of an ad across multiple web pages. When advertisers use dart, they can see the performance of an advertisement, especially if the ad wasn’t doing as well or changes needed to be made. Dart allowed this to happen. The companies no longer had to wait until after their campaign to see the performance of an ad. Before, they were forced to wait and analyze their data and make changes for subsequent campaigns. In doing this, Doubleclick influenced the new pricing model known as Cost per impression (C.P.M.). Before it was a fixed price for a given amount of time, Doubleclick moved it over to R.O.I.-based pricing.

4. Native Advertising (current day advertisement)

Native advertising is when advertisers pay for their product or material to be put on an online blog. The trick is the ad is nearly hidden from the reader. Advertisers work with publishers during the writing process to incorporate their material into the publisher’s work. The advertiser's content is often correlated to the publisher’s main topics making the ad hard even to notice. This is one of the most effective ways of advertising because the ad doesn’t interrupt the viewer’s experience; it is instead part of their experience. Because their ad is on a trustworthy publisher’s page, the reader gravitates towards the item more. 31% of blog readers are more likely to purchase from a brand after viewing their native ad, which is a high return.

Current types of advertisement

1. Paid search advertisement

Paid search advertising is where you pay a search engine to advertise your content on S.E.R.P.s for keywords. On any given day, people go to google to search for answers. On Average, google searches over 3.5 billion questions a day. Because it receives so many searches a day, this is one of the most common and effective ways of online advertising.

When companies want certain S.E.R.P.s, they must develop keywords that best fit their ad and bid on those keywords. The browsing company then chooses the keyword that relates best to its advertisement and puts it into an auction. The Auctions that the web browsers go by are not like your typical auctions where the highest bidder wins. The advertiser with the best ad rank is the one that wins. The browser companies do this so that the ad correlates with the keyword to give the user the best experience of ads.

2. Paid Social Advertising

In the U.S., more than 80% of the population uses social media. Social advertising is the quickest and most effective way of reaching a consumer because they spend the most time. With paid social advertising, the advertisers have a wide variety of options to make the most of their ads. The advertiser can choose the targeting audience, the type of ad they are promoting, and the overall objective of the ad campaign. Social media platforms have different ways of making and choosing advertisements.


Facebook has one of the largest and most engaged users. With over 1.5 billion active users who have spent, on average, 41 minutes a day on the platform. When advertisers create an ad with Facebook, they can choose their goals, such as conversion, consideration, and awareness. Once the advertiser has selected the objective of the announcement, they can then decide what type of ad they would like to use. Advertisers can choose between collective, lead, messenger, or dynamic ads, and more. Once the format of the ad is finished, they will begin working towards the type of people they want to target. They have many options for this, but Facebook divides them into Demographics, behavior, and interests. To make sure you reach the right consumers, you must have an understanding of your customers. Facebooks Advertisement system is very complex. You can grow or strengthen the audience that you have an influence on.


Instagram’s audience is entirely different from Facebook; Instagram has a younger audience 64% of its users are between the age of 18–29. Instagram still has over 550 million daily users. The type of people on Instagram versus Facebook is entirely different, but they still use the same advertising techniques. Facebook owns Instagram and is the reason why advertising is similar. When creating an advertisement with Instagram, you first must choose the direction in which you are going with the ad; you can choose between awareness, conversion, or considerations. Once you have decided, you can pick how your advertisement is displayed between video, carousel, photo, or story ads. Like Facebook, you can then choose your targeting audience by their interest, demographics, location, or behaviors.


Out of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, Twitter is the smallest of social media platforms. Just because it is the lowest doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of traffic. Twitter has over 335 million monthly users. Twitter reaches a different demographic 80% of its users are outside of the united states. Twitter is a great tool to improve your international reach. With Twitter, you can choose five marketing options: awareness & range, tweet engagement, followers, website clicks, and app installs.

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, you are limited to two types of promotions: Twitter Promote and Twitter Ad Campaign. With Twitter Promote, you must specify five potential followers and twitter does the rest for you. On the other hand, Twitter Ad Campaign, you do the targeting on your own where you have a list of options on how you want to reach your consumer.

YouTube (TrueView Ads)

YouTube ad system works in two ways, TrueView ads and bumper ads. When you purchase a TrueView ad, you only pay when a person watches the entire ad. When using TrueView ads, you can either choose between instream ads or video discovery ads. Instream ads play before the video even starts. After 5 seconds, the viewer can decide to skip the video, but YouTube lets you put C.T.A.s on your ad to flow traffic to your YouTube channel or website. Video discovery ads are just videos that you can have displayed on the home page or the recommended page. They pop up when keywords are typed into the search bar, and if yours fits the best, then yours will be displayed. If the visitor clicks on the advertisement, then a banner ad will pop up to either side with a link to your website to learn more.

3. Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are the ads that stick with the visitor the most they’re the shortest and catchiest. They are no longer than six seconds long and are displayed before, during, or after the video clicks. With such short videos, they don’t bother the user, and the smarter advertisers know this. Advertisers use these few seconds to make a catchy phrase or slogan for the visitor to think about consistently. For example, you probably don’t even know it, but when you think of Geico insurance, you most likely hear, “If you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to Geico; it’s what you do” or one of the many slogans that they have.

4. Display Ads

Display ads for the longest time have been the most controversial ad in digital marketing. Advertisers have abused their power by tricking the visitors into clicking misleading ads. Display ads are often correlated to viruses, making it hard for users to click on these types of ads in fear of infecting their computers. Banner display blindness is a big deal, and it’s easy to see why people are blind to display advertisements and can’t stop downloading ad blockers.

Display ads over the years have gained a bad reputation of being distracting, irrelevant, and intrusive. On the other side, networks like Google Display and Facebook’s Audience are the best at new-age banner ads. These networks can display your ad to the right targeted audience at the right time and place; if that’s not enough for you, the systems will also let you decide where to place your ad.

Take Away on Online Advertising

Nowadays, there are many ways of reaching potential customers, and online adverts still hold some value. But other alternatives like ranking web pages via SEO can also generate quality clicks. Overall, a multitude of online advertising channels is available and able to target specific demographics.




A Seattle web design and online marketing agency that delivers high-end websites. A passion for web development and SEO.