When the Internet was first introduced, it wasn’t meant for advertising – it was a way to exchange emails and information. But it didn’t take long for marketers to see why such a tool could help them grow their businesses. Here are some events that kicked it off:
In the Beginning…
After email was invented, it was used mainly by the military and universities, but in 1979, CompuServe (the first major U.S. commercial online service) began offering email and technical support to personal computer users. Throughout the next two decades, email was used to exchange information and transfer data – it wasn’t until the early ’90s that businesses started seeing the marketing benefit in it.
The First Browser
In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee invented the first “web browser” named WorldWideWeb (later renamed Nexus to avoid confusion with the World Wide Web). The idea of a web browser didn’t gain much popularity, however, until 1993 when the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois released Mosaic, a graphical web browser that was easier to use and install. After these inventions, the Internet began booming.
While business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce had been popular since the 1970s, business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce didn’t become popular until 1991, when the National Science Foundation (credited for creating the first “Internet”) lifted its restrictions for commercial use of its Internet. Online shopping grew over the next few years and in 1995, the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon, was introduced.
Even though the first search engine was technically invented in 1990 (and called Archie), it wasn’t until 1994 that the first search engine most like today’s search engines was invented. A company called WebCrawler released a search engine that indexed titles and headers of a web page as well as all of its content. Later that year, a search engine called Lycos was released that added to the features of WebCrawler by ranking results based on relevancy.
After Google was invented in 1996, the company launched its AdWords campaign in 2003, which was the first system that marketers could use to serve ads in response to a user’s desires.