When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web on 12 March 1989, he changed the world forever. Now 30 years later, we are well and truly in the information economy, where social media, tech giants and digital media dominate our marketing resources, but at what cost to our marketing strategies?
We have progressed very quickly in the internet age and it’s incredible that today over half the world’s population is online. Below is a brief outline of some key moments in internet history:
- 1990: The First website came online, and it is still live today info.cern.ch
- 1993: The White House comes online
- 1994: First banner ad is placed by AT&T, with a 44% CTR (today’s average is 0.35% CTR) and search engine YAHOO comes online
- 1995: The first online auction site comes online – eBay
- 1998: Google is established
- 1999: LiveJournal comes online – one of the earliest forms of blogging & social media
- 2001: Sharing & collaboration on the web continues to grow with Wikipedia going online
- 2002: Amazon Web Services (AWS) comes online as a set of tools for developers
- 2003: Blogging platform WordPress comes online
- 2004: The beginning of Web 2.0 with sites such as Facebook, Gmail & Myspace becoming very popular
- 2005: The sharing communities grow with YouTube and Reddit coming online, and the world has its first viral video
- 2007: Steve Jobs and Apple unveil the iPhone
- 2014: The web crosses over the 1 billion websites
- 2016: The EU adopts the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to enforce websites to be more open about the data they collect from their users
For a full web history, check out this great website here
When Tim Berners-Lee first developed the web he wanted it to be free and for everyone to have access. Whilst Berners-Lee acknowledges that the web has allowed for the freedom of speech to be amplified in a global context, he also understands that this has created an opening for the misuse of the web too.
“And while the web has created opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”Tim Berners-Lee, 2019
As marketers, it is imperative that we understand how we use the web and social media for good and ensure we don’t contribute to the misuse use of this technology. Digital and social media can be powerful tools in any marketer’s arsenal, and a clear understanding of how, when and why we use different platforms and channels to promote our businesses is essential.
This understanding is developed over time and by educating ourselves on how this technology is used as a greater part of the marketing process. In their report Kaplan & Haenlein (2010), outline that choosing the correct medium for any given purpose depends on the target group that needs to be reached and the messaging to be communicated. However, it is important that all activities are aligned to the greater strategic objective and that integration across all channels and mediums, whether digital or traditional, is key.
In 2019 and going forward, marketers should look at allocating their resources to developing the overall marketing strategy and how digital can integrate to achieve business goals, not the other way around.