Timeline of online advertising

Last updated

This page is a timeline of online advertising . Major launches, milestones and other major events are included.



Late 1970s–


Much of online advertising during this time period is done through Email, in the form of spamming. [1] Such activities have continued to this day, but became much more common after the ban against the commercial use of the internet was lifted in 1991. [2]


With people now having their own websites, banner ads are used as a source of income to pay for these websites and as side money. Companies like Prodigy, Global Network Navigator (GNN), and HotWired are pioneers in the business of online advertising. [3]


As more companies capable of providing advertising services emerge, several major successful companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL begin to dominate the market. [3]


YearMonth and dateEvent typeAdvertisement typeDescription
1978May 3Milestone Email marketing The first instance of email spam is sent, the purpose of which is advertising. [1]
1980LaunchN/A Usenet, a popular discussion forum, launches, and is occasionally overwhelmed with advertising spam posts. [4]
1984Launch Banner advertising Prodigy launches, offering one of the first online advertising services; although these ads are always in the same spot on the screen, and are non-clickable. [4]
1991MarchMilestoneN/AThe ban on commercial use on the NSFNET is lifted by the National Science Foundation (NSF). [2] [5]
1993LaunchBanner advertisingGNN, one of the first web publication and web advertising services, is launched by O'Reilly Media. [6]
1994MilestoneBanner advertisingThe first ever clickable advertisement is sold to a Silicon Valley law firm by GNN. [7]
1994LaunchN/AHotWired, the first commercial web magazine, launches. [6] [4]
1994October 27MilestoneBanner advertisingThe first ever banner is sold to AT&T, and is visible on the first issue of HotWired. [8] [7] [3]
1995MayAcquisitionBanner advertisingGNN is acquired by AOL for $11 million. [9] [4]
1996Launch Ad serving DoubleClick, an online advertising company, launches. [4] [10]
1996JulyLaunch, Milestone Search advertising Yahoo! launches the very first search ads in their search engine. [11]
1997Invention Pop-up ads Pop-up ads are invented by Ethan Zuckerman, and considered to be a more aggressive and disliked advertising strategy. [12]
1998September 4LaunchN/AGoogle, an online search engine, launches. [13] [14]
1998Invention, Launch, Milestone Ad exchange OpenX, one of the first ad exchanges, launches as an open source project. [15]
1998LaunchSearch advertisingGoTo (now Yahoo! Search Marketing), a search engine which offers search advertising, launches. [12]
1999DefunctionN/AHotWired is shut down after its domain is re-purposed by Lycos. [16]
2000October 23LaunchSearch advertisingGoogle launches the AdWords service, which allows for advertising based on a user's browsing habits and their search keywords. [17] [7]
2002Invention, milestonePop-up adsWith the annoyance brought about by pop-up ads, many web browsers such as Firefox, Netscape, and Opera begin to roll out features to block these ads. [18]
2003October 7AcquisitionSearch advertisingOverture (formerly GoTo) is acquired by Yahoo! to enrich their search engine. [19]
2004FebruaryLaunchSocial media advertisingFacebook, the most popular social media network, launches. [20]
2005February 14LaunchBanner advertising YouTube, a popular video sharing website, launches. [21]
2005Launch Demand-side platform Criteo, one of the first demand-side platforms, launches. [22]
2006OctoberAcquisitionN/AYouTube is acquired by Google for $1.65 billion. [23]
2006Invention, launch, milestone Ad blocking Adblock, an ad-blocking add-on for web browsers, is released. [24]
2006Launch Content discovery platform Outbrain, an advertising company that powers external recirculation widgets, launches. [25]
2006AugustLaunch Native advertising YouTube launches its video advertising platform, which has a giant reach today. [26]
2007LaunchContent discovery platform Taboola, an advertising company that powers external recirculation widgets, launches. [27]
2007Launch Behavioral targeting, social media advertising Facebook launches Beacon, an intricate advertising platform that tracks Facebook users' activities on websites outside of Facebook. [28]
2007April 14AcquisitionAd servingGoogle acquires DoubleClick, an advertising platform, for $3.1 billion. [29]
2007May 18AcquisitionAd servingMicrosoft acquires AQuantive, an advertising platform, for $6.5 billion. [30] [31]
2007LaunchDemand-side platformMediaMath, a demand-side platform, launches. [32]
2008MarchLaunchDemand-side platform Rocket Fuel Inc., a demand-side platform, launches. [33]
2008DecemberInvention/patentViewable impressionRealVu Inc.invents viewable impression2008LaunchAd blocking Rick Petnel creates Easylist, one of the most popular filter lists available for ad-blocking web browser add-ons. [34] The filter list Easylist Privacy is also available, and focuses on the blocking of web elements that may invade a user's privacy.
2009September 18LaunchAd exchangeGoogle launches its own ad exchange platform with DoubleClick. [35] 2009
LaunchMRC viewable impression accreditationRealVu introduces the viewable impression invention to the MRC2010February 22LaunchAd servingGoogle launches DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), an advertising software as a service. [36]
2010April 12LaunchSocial media advertising Twitter launches Promoted Tweets, which allows advertisers to pay for tweets to be shown in a user's feed. [37]
2013April 26AcquisitionAd servingFacebook acquires Atlas Solutions from Microsoft for $100 million, in order to enrich its already bustling advertising platform. [38] [39] [31] [40]
2013OctoberLaunchSocial media advertising Instagram, a popular image sharing platform, releases its feature of having sponsored posts appear on user's feeds. [41]
2014March 24LaunchSocial media advertising Pinterest, a creative image sharing platform, launches its Promoted Pins service which allows for additional advertising in a user's feed. [42]
2014June 23LaunchAd blocking UBlock Origin, an ad-blocking extension for web browsers, launches. [43]
2014November 14Launch*Ad servingFacebook re-launches Atlas. [44]
2016June 14LaunchSocial media advertising Snapchat, a popular messaging app, begins to include advertisements between user's "stories". [45]
2016AugustMajor eventAd blockingFacebook states that they will start blocking the use of ad blocking extensions, specifically Adblock Plus and Adblock. In response to this, these ad-blockers begin to block Facebook's blocking in a back-and-forth "war". [46]

(*) Such launches are not initial launches, but rather re-launches.

See also

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