Advertising has existed for a long time! But when did online advertising begin? When you browse the internet, advertisements follow you wherever you go whether that be on a recipe blog, the weather app, or a social media platform. Digital advertising started more recently than you would realize, and it is important to stay on top of digital trends. Digital marketing is so important for advertising your brand in today’s world. Learning how digital advertising came about is the first step to a successful business.


The first online advertisement was posted on October 27, 1994. It was a rectangular graphic along the sides of a website and can be displayed on the top or bottom of the web page. This is known as a banner ad.

HotWired introduced banner ads as a tool to get revenue for its writers. After their first banner ad, they began charging other companies for the creation of banner ads on their website.

After this, AT&T paid HotWired $30,000 for a banner ad at the top of their website for three months. When viewers would click the banner ad it would take them to a landing page for AT&T. At the time, the click-through rate was 44% with today’s average click-through rate on banner ads being only about .05%. This new, trending marketing tactic shaped the way for marketing today and opened doors for businesses to grow.


After the first digital ad was posted in 1994, larger companies began making online advertising a part of their business. According to, “AT&T and Saturn purchased banner ads, media sites (like CBS) started launching their websites, and the Internet Advertising Council was assembled.”

In 1995, cost per thousand impressions was created when Netscape and Infoseek created a new pricing model. This is the pricing per 1,000 advertising impressions per website or CPM.

Along with banner ads, people were interested in targeting specific audiences. Advertising agencies focused on online ads and began helping their clients find websites their audience would visit. With this new way of targeting, agencies were able to place ads where they mattered most. Companies were able to target more consumers interested in what they had to offer, and websites could host ads more relevant to their viewers.


The biggest advancement in 1996 was a service called D.A.R.T. (Dynamic Advertising Reporting and Targeting) which allowed companies to see how many times their advertisements were viewed vs. how many times they were clicked on. In other words, we were now able to quantify audience reach and impressions. This gave companies and businesses the power to tell if they were getting their money’s worth with advertising. They would also be able to modify their campaign as needed now that there was data to show what worked. The ability to collect data was a major advancement in digital advertising and made way for better, more successful campaigns.


In 1997, pop-up advertisements were created. However, they quickly became an annoyance to most users. They can even be referred to as the “internet’s original sin.” One of the original developers of pop-up ads even apologized for creating them. This explains why most pop-up ads are blocked on certain browsers. Your local marketing agency will advise you against them, especially on your website as it could be an annoyance for web visitors and even look bad to Google when choosing your SEO ranking.


In 1999,, later acquired by Yahoo, introduced pay-for-placement search engine service. Advertisers were able to bid for the top words for search engine results. Pay-for-placement soon evolved to pay-per-click. Pay-per-click can fluctuate every day so it is important to partner with a good digital marketing agency that stays on top of current prices.

Auburn Advertising

Auburn Advertising is a public service offered by Inner Spark Create to inform the community of all things marketing. At Inner Spark Creative, our experts are up to date on all the trends and digital technologies to advertise your business successfully. We know all the latest trends and what has worked over the years. No matter what kind of business you have, we are able to help successfully market your company. Contact us today to get started!

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