Timeline of online advertising

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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


Decade Description
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]


Year Month and date Event type Advertisement type Description
1978 May 3 Milestone Email marketing The first instance of email spam is sent, the purpose of which is advertising.[1]
1980 Launch N/A Usenet, a popular discussion forum, launches, and is occasionally overwhelmed with advertising spam posts.[4]
1984 Launch 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]
1991 March Milestone N/A The ban on commercial use on the NSFNET is lifted by the National Science Foundation (NSF).[2][5]
1993 Launch Banner advertising GNN, one of the first web publication and web advertising services, is launched by O'Reilly Media.[6]
1994 Milestone Banner advertising The first ever clickable advertisement is sold to a Silicon Valley law firm by GNN.[7]
1994 Launch N/A HotWired, the first commercial web magazine, launches.[6][4]
1994 October 27 Milestone Banner advertising The first ever banner is sold to AT&T, and is visible on the first issue of HotWired.[8][7][3]
1995 May Acquisition Banner advertising GNN is acquired by AOL for $11 million.[9][4]
1996 Launch Ad serving DoubleClick, an online advertising company, launches.[4][10]
1996 July Launch, Milestone Search advertising Yahoo! launches the very first search ads in their search engine.[11]
1997 Invention Pop-up ads Pop-up ads are invented by Ethan Zuckerman, and considered to be a more aggressive and disliked advertising strategy.[12]
1998 September 4 Launch N/A Google, an online search engine, launches.[13][14]
1998 Invention, Launch, Milestone Ad exchange OpenX, one of the first ad exchanges, launches as an open source project.[15]
1998 Launch Search advertising GoTo (now Yahoo! Search Marketing), a search engine which offers search advertising, launches.[12]
1999 Defunction N/A HotWired is shut down after its domain is re-purposed by Lycos.[16]
2000 October 23 Launch Search advertising Google launches the AdWords service, which allows for advertising based on a user's browsing habits and their search keywords.[17][7]
2002 Invention, milestone Pop-up ads With 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]
2003 October 7 Acquisition Search advertising Overture (formerly GoTo) is acquired by Yahoo! to enrich their search engine.[19]
2004 February Launch Social media advertising Facebook, the most popular social media network, launches.[20]
2005 February 14 Launch Banner advertising YouTube, a popular video sharing website, launches.[21]
2005 Launch Demand-side platform Criteo, one of the first demand-side platforms, launches.[22]
2006 October Acquisition N/A YouTube is acquired by Google for $1.65 billion.[23]
2006 Invention, launch, milestone Ad blocking Adblock, an ad-blocking add-on for web browsers, is released.[24]
2006 Launch Content discovery platform Outbrain, an advertising company that powers external recirculation widgets, launches.[25]
2006 August Launch Native advertising YouTube launches its video advertising platform, which has a giant reach today.[26]
2007 Launch Content discovery platform Taboola, an advertising company that powers external recirculation widgets, launches.[27]
2007 Launch Behavioral targeting, social media advertising Facebook launches Beacon, an intricate advertising platform that tracks Facebook users' activities on websites outside of Facebook.[28]
2007 April 14 Acquisition Ad serving Google acquires DoubleClick, an advertising platform, for $3.1 billion.[29]
2007 May 18 Acquisition Ad serving Microsoft acquires AQuantive, an advertising platform, for $6.5 billion.[30][31]
2007 Launch Demand-side platform MediaMath, a demand-side platform, launches.[32]
2008 March Launch Demand-side platform Rocket Fuel Inc., a demand-side platform, launches.[33]
2008 December Invention/patent Viewable impression RealVu Inc.invents viewable impression 2008 Launch Ad 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.
2009 September 18 Launch Ad exchange Google launches its own ad exchange platform with DoubleClick.[35] 2009
Launch MRC viewable impression accreditation RealVu introduces the viewable impression invention to the MRC 2010 February 22 Launch Ad serving Google launches DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), an advertising software as a service.[36]
2010 April 12 Launch Social media advertising Twitter launches Promoted Tweets, which allows advertisers to pay for tweets to be shown in a user's feed.[37]
2013 April 26 Acquisition Ad serving Facebook acquires Atlas Solutions from Microsoft for $100 million, in order to enrich its already bustling advertising platform.[38][39][31][40]
2013 October Launch Social media advertising Instagram, a popular image sharing platform, releases its feature of having sponsored posts appear on user's feeds.[41]
2014 March 24 Launch Social media advertising Pinterest, a creative image sharing platform, launches its Promoted Pins service which allows for additional advertising in a user's feed.[42]
2014 June 23 Launch Ad blocking UBlock Origin, an ad-blocking extension for web browsers, launches.[43]
2014 November 14 Launch* Ad serving Facebook re-launches Atlas.[44]
2016 June 14 Launch Social media advertising Snapchat, a popular messaging app, begins to include advertisements between user's "stories".[45]
2016 August Major event Ad blocking Facebook 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[edit]


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  2. ^ a b "NSFNET - The Internet Launching Pad". www.livinginternet.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
  3. ^ a b c "History of Online Display Advertising | Vantage Local". www.vantagelocal.com. Archived from the original on 2014-06-15. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
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  16. ^ "20 Years Of Web Publishing: Former HotWired And Pathfinder Execs Look Back On 1994". International Business Times. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2017-01-07.
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