Timeline of online advertising

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


Decade Description
1978–1992 This era pre-dates the World Wide Web. 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]
1993–1999 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] Some of the companies that would later dominate online advertising are created, including Google and DoubleClick. Some models that originated at this time include: display advertising (specifically, banner ads), pay-per-click advertising (starting with Overture/Goto.com, in the context of search), ad exchanges (starting with OpenX), popup ads (by Ethan Zuckerman of Tripod.com), and behavioral targeting and retargeting (by DoubleClick).
2000–2002 This period sees the burst of the tech bubble. There are few launches and acquisitions in this period. The main development during this period is Google's launch of Adwords (its search advertising tool) and the growth of Adwords along with increased Internet and search engine use.
2003–2006 After recovery from the bursting of the tech bubble, the pace of acquisitions and new company formation increases again. During this period, companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AOL acquire many nascent advertising companies, and new companies such as Criteo form.
2007–2010 The period begins with Google's acquisition of DoubleClick (that would prove to be a great success) and Microsoft's acquisition of aQuantive (that would ultimately be written off). Big companies continue to buy key ad technology companies in this period. Acquisitions by Google/DoubleClick prove the most valuable, including the acquisition of AdMob and Invite Media. Yahoo! and AOL also acquire some companies, and Apple enters the game with its acquisition of Quattro.
The period also sees the launch of Digiday and AdExchanger, two online publications devoted to online advertising and digital media.
2011–2013 With the rebranding of DoubleClick's core offerings as DoubleClick For Publishers (DFP), and significant expansion in features available, DoubleClick Ad Exchange comes to dominate the ad exchange world, and DFP comes to dominate the publisher-facing side of ad serving. This puts Google in a strong position with respect to display advertising, in addition to its search stronghold.
Two other players that enter advertising at a larger scale at this time are Facebook (through the use of sponsored stories) and Amazon (with the introduction of the Amazon Advertising Platform). Twitter also starts monetizing through promoted tweets.
The period also sees more development of standards around real-time bidding (with OpenRTB 2.0) and norms around what advertisers can track and how they should disclose this information.
2014–2017 Social media advertising continues to grow; Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are among the new players in the space.
Google retains its dominant position in display advertising, but faces more pressure from both buyers and sellers to make its policies more friendly to their needs. Inefficiencies in the ad serving process lead to opportunities for innovations like header bidding. Google attempts to render these redundant by allowing for more competition in the ad serving.
Verizon acquires AOL and then Yahoo!, with the former acquisition explicitly being justified as an ad tech acquisition.


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]
1995 August Launch Ad serving NetGravity is founded by Paul Nakada, Tom Shields, and John Danner, and builds its ad serving product with Yahoo! as the first customer. The product, Netvertiser, launches on Yahoo! on October 23, 1995.[10]
1996 Launch Association The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launches.[11]
1996 Launch Ad serving DoubleClick, a prominent online advertising company, launches.[4][12] DoubleClick uses the new technology of browser cookies to track users as they travel between websites.[13]
1996 March Launch Web-ring advertising LinkExchange is founded by Tony Hsieh (who would later become CEO of Zappos) and Sanjay Madan.[14] Ali Partovi later joined them as a third partner in August 1996.[15] In November 1996, when the company consisted of about 10 people, it moved from Hsieh's and Madan's living room to an office[16]
1996 June Launch Demand-side platform Connexity, a company providing advertising solutions for e-commerce companies, is founded.[17]
1996 July Launch, Milestone Search advertising Yahoo! launches the very first search ads in their search engine.[18]
1997 Launch Ad serving aQuantive launches.[19]
1997 Invention Pop-up ads Pop-up ads are invented by Ethan Zuckerman at Tripod.com, and considered to be a more aggressive and disliked advertising strategy.[20][21]
1998 September 4 Launch N/A Google, an online search engine, launches.[22][23] Google would later come to be the dominant player in search (and hence, search advertising) as well as display advertising.
1998 October 5 New feature Retargeting, behavioral targeting DoubleClick launches two new products: DataBank, that allows for targeting users based on their known correlations between their activity (the types of sites they visit) and purchase patterns, and Boomerang, a retargeting solution.[24] Boomerang is the first retargeting solution.[13]
1998 November 5 Acquisition Web-ring advertising Microsoft announces that it has acquired LinkExchange, a company that worked on monetization of web-rings.[25][26][27]
1998 Invention, Launch, Milestone Ad exchange OpenX, one of the first ad exchanges, launches as an open source project.[28]
1998 Launch Search advertising GoTo (later Overture, now Yahoo! Search Marketing), a search engine which offers search advertising, launches.[20] It is among the pioneers of a pay-per-click model of search advertising, treating search advertising as a primary revenue source rather than a loss leader.[29]
1999 Defunction N/A HotWired is shutdown after its domain is re-purposed by Lycos.[30]
1999 July 13 Acquisition Ad serving DoubleClick acquires NetGravity for $530 million in stock.[10][31][32][26]
2000 October 23 Launch Search advertising Google launches the prominent AdWords service, which allows for advertising based on a user's browsing habits and their search keywords.[33][7]
2002 Invention, Milestone Pop-up ads With the annoyance brought about by pop-up ads, many prominent web browsers such as Firefox, Netscape, and Opera begin to roll out features to block these ads.[34]
2003 March Launch Content-targeted advertising Google launches its Content-Targeted Advertising Program, that would later be renamed AdSense. The advertisements come from AdWords advertisers, but rather than being related to the user's search intent, they are related to the content of the page..[35]
2003 March 30 Launch Ad exchange Right Media, the company that operates the Right Media Exchange (RMX) launches.[36] It would eventually be acquired by Yahoo!.[37]
2003 April 23 Acquisition Content-targeted advertising Google acquires Applied Semantics, a company specializing in advertising targeted to the content of the pages on which the ad shows.[38] The acquisition comes a month after Google's own release of its Content-Targeted Advertising Program, and leads to the program being renamed AdSense.
2003 October 7 Acquisition Search advertising Overture (formerly GoTo) is acquired by Yahoo! to enrich their search engine.[39]
2003 December 15 Acquisition Search advertising aQuantive acquires Go Toast, a Denver-based pay-per-click online search technology company.[40][41][26]
2004 January 7 Launch Ad network BlieLithium is founded by Gurbaksh Chahal and Krishna Subramanian as an ad network focused on behavioral targeting.[42] The company would later be acquired by Yahoo! and its product woud become Yahoo! Advertising.[43][44]
2004 February Launch Social media advertising Facebook, the most popular social media network, launches.[45]
2004 June 24 Acquisition Ad serving AOL acquires Advertising.com for $435 million.[46][26]
2005 February 14 Launch Banner advertising YouTube, a popular video sharing website, launches.[47]
2005 June 10 Acquisition Ad formats Gannett announcing that it is acquiring rich ad media formats company PointRoll for $100 million.[48][49]
2005 Launch Demand-side platform, retargeting Criteo, one of the first demand-side platforms, launches.[50] Its focus is on retargeting, and it would bring its product to market after four years of product development.
2006 April 10 Launch Mobile advertising Mobile advertising platform AdMob launches.[51][52]
2006 August Launch Native advertising YouTube launches its video advertising platform, which has a giant reach today.[53]
2006 October Acquisition N/A YouTube is acquired by Google for $1.65 billion.[54]
2006 Invention, Launch, Milestone Ad blocking Adblock Plus, a very prominent ad-blocking add-on for web browsers, is released.[55]
2006 Launch Content discovery platform Outbrain, a notable advertising company that powers external recirculation widgets, launches.[56]
2007 Launch Content discovery platform Taboola, a notable advertising company that powers external recirculation widgets, launches.[57][58]
2007 Launch Behavioral targeting, Social media advertising Facebook launches Beacon, an intricate advertising platform that tracks Facebook user's activities on websites outside of Facebook.[59]
2007 April Launch Demand-side platform Invite Media launches. It is the creator of Bid Manager, a demand-side platform (DSP). It would eventually be acquired by Google and the Bid Manager would be rebranded as DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM).
2007 April 14 Acquisition Ad serving Google acquires DoubleClick, an advertising platform, for $3.1 billion.[60]
2007 April 30 Acquisition Ad exchange Yahoo! acquires Right Media, the company behind the Right Media Exchange (RMX).[37]
2007 May 1 Launch Ad serving The Rubicon Project is founded as an advertising network, by Frank Addante, Craig Roah, Duc Chau and Julie Matter.
2007 May 16 Acquisition Ad serving AOL acquires AdTech AG, an online ad-serving company based in Germany, at undisclosed terms. The company would operate as an independent subsidiary of the AOL-owned advertising.com.[61]
2007 May 18 Acquisition Ad serving Microsoft acquires AQuantive, an advertising platform, for $6.5 billion. This includes Atlas DMT, the advertising technology division.[62][63]
2007 July 23 Launch Video advertising TubeMogul launches, initially as a cross-platform video analytics tool.[64] It would eventually become an online video advertising network and solution.
2007 September 4 Acquisition Ad network Yahoo! acquires ad network company BlueLithium, leading to it being rebranded as Yahoo! Advertising.[43][43][26]
2007 Launch Ad serving/demand-side platform AppNexus, a company offering online advertising auction technology and advertising campaign management, launches.
2007 Launch Demand-side platform MediaMath, a notable demand-side platform, launches.[65]
2008 March Launch Demand-side platform Rocket Fuel Inc., a notable demand-side platform, launches.[66]
2008 Launch Publication AdExchanger, a company with an eponymous website, that tracks the ad serving and ad exchange space, launches.[67]
2008 Launch Ad blocking Rick Petnel creates Easylist, one of the most popular filter lists available for ad-blocking web browser add-ons.[68] The filter list Easylist Privacy is also available, and focuses on the blocking of web elements that may invade a user's privacy.
2008 Launch Data management platform BlueKai, a cloud-based data management platform, launches as a marketing tech startup.[69]
2009 Launch Ad serving Adzerk, a company that provides ad serving tech as well as tools to build an in-house ad server, is founded by James Avery, growing out of two niche ad networks started by him: The Lounge and Ruby Row.[70][71] The company would soon acquire Stack Overflow as a customer and report raising seed funding of $650,000 in July 2011.[71]
2009 Launch Ad measurement Integral Ad Science is launched as AdSafe Media. The company would be known for addressing issues around fraud, viewability, brand risk and TRAQ, a proprietary media quality score.[72][73]
2009 Launch Demand-side platform DataXu, a software copmany that runs a real-time bidding platform and would co-found the OpenRTB Consortium, launches.[74]
2009 September 18 Launch Ad exchange Google launches its own ad exchange platform with DoubleClick.[75]
2009 October 1 Launch Demand-side platform The Trade Desk, a technology company that operates a demand-side platform, launches.[76]
2009 November 9 Acquisition Mobile advertising Google announces that it is in the process of acquiring mobile advertising platform AdMob for $750 million.[77][78] The completion of the acquisition is announced on the Google blog on May 27, 2010.[79]
2010 Launch Ad measurement (search, viewability) Moat is founded by Jonah and Noah Goodhart and Mike Walrath, who were previously involved with Right Media Exchange. The company provides an ad search tool and Internet-wide ad viewability data and insights.[80][81]
2010 Launch Ad measurement (real-time price data, inventory discovery, bid monitoring) Metamarkets launches. The company is an ad tech startup that provides programmatic ad data-related services to marketers, such as a data dashboard to measure how campaigns are performing; an API to import your programmatic data into other apps; and inventory discovery and bid monitoring for exchanges.[82][83]
2010 Launch Publication Digiday, a company and eponymous daily publication focused on digital marketing and digital media, launches. It would be one of the important publications covering news in the world of digital advertising.[84]
2010 January 4 Acquisition Mobile advertising Apple acquires Quatto Wireless, a mobile advertising company. The acquisition comes shortly after Google's acquisition of AdMob.[85][86]
2010 February 22 Launch Ad serving Google launches DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), an advertising software as a service, as well as the sister product, DFP Small Business.[87][88] DFP is a rebranding of the service previously called DoubleClick's DART ad server, and DFP Small Business is a rebranding of Google Ad Manager.[89]
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.[90]
2010 April 13 Launch Viewability standard The Media Rating Council approves RealVu's acccreditation for the Viewable Impression metric and related viewability metrics. This is the first viewability metric, and is an early harbinger of a shift toward viewability standard that would unfold over the next several years.[91] Later in the year, RealVu would be awarded a certificate of excellence as a finalist for the prestigious Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Innovation Awards for the Company's Viewable Impression metric.[92]
2010 May Launch Data management platform Krux, a data management platform (DMP), gets seed funding.[93]
2010 June 3 Acquisition Demand-side platform Google confirms the acquisition of Invite Media.[94][95] The Bid Manager would be rebranded as DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM).
2010 October Launch End user control standard The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) launches the AdChoices program.[96]
2010 December New feature End user control standard Microsoft announces that the Do Not Track (DNT) standard will be supported in Internet Explorer 9.[97] Subsequently, Firefox becomes the first browser to implement DNT, and Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, and Opera follow/[98][99]
2011 January 24 Launch Social media advertising Facebook launches Sponsored Stories, where brands can pay money to have their posts or other interactions related to the brand (such as friend activity) appear in front of more users. The Sponsored Stories would appear in place of existing ads and would not increase the ad load on the site (later, Sponsored Stories would become part of the News Feed; however, at this time, they are not).[100][101]
2011 August Standard change End user control standard Apple announces that it is deprecating UDID, the unique device identifier that advertisers and others can use to identify a device.[102][103]
2011 September 29 New terminology Native advertising At the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising Conference, Fred Wilson first uses the term "native advertising".[104]
2011 November 4 New publisher Native advertising Viral content publisher BuzzFeed launches its advertising page, inviting brands to run viral advertising campaigns on BuzzFeed.[105] (Note: the archived link is from November 11; the date of November 4 comes from Google Search snippet).
2011 December 20 Launch Social media advertising Facebook announces that, starting in January 2012, it will be showing ads in the news feed on web (not on mobile), with the name "Featured Stories".[106][107][108] The stories must be based on actions by the viewer's friends or from pages that the viewer has liked. As of January 10, 2012, the feature has launched.[109]
2012 January Launch Real-time bidding standard OpenRTB 2.0, a specification for real-time bidding (RTB), is released.[110]
2012 June New feature End user control standard Apple announces two new identifiers, IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) (a cross-app/cross-publisher identifier) and IDFV (Identifier for Vendors) (a publisher-specific identifier), which is hailed as good news for the mobile app advertising industry.[111][112]
2012 July 12 Write-off Ad serving Microsoft writes off the value of its aQuantive acquisition, leading to post-mortems regarding what went wrong with the acquisition.[113]
2012 October 2 Launch Demand-side platform Amazon.com announces its advertising ambitions at Advertising Week. This includes building out the Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) into a full-fledged demand-side platform, and opening it up to agencies.[114] Commentators note the huge potential of Amazon's rich data on people's purchase intent and interest in powering targeted advertising.[115][116]
2012 New feature End user control standard The Express installation settings for Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer 10, turn Do Not Track on by default. The Digital Advertising Alliance protests this decision[117] while a Microsoft spokesperson defends it.[118] On September 7, Roy Fielding, one of the authors of the DNT standard, submits a change to ignore the header for users coming from IE10,[119] leading to controversy.[120][121] The patch is commented out on October 9, restoring original behavior.[122] On April 3, 2015, Microsoft announces that the Express installation will no longer activate Do Not Track, but Microsoft will continue to highlight the option to users so that they are aware of it.[123]
2012 December 11 Adoption Viewability standard Adweek reports that, starting 2013, the viewability standard will start rolling out seriously, through an initiative called the Making Measurement Making Sense (3MS) involving the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's). In particular, Media Rating Council-accredited third-party researchers and analytics vendors will begin counting only viewable ad impressions.[124]
2013 March Adoption Ad serving Reddit starts using Adzerk for ad serving. This replaces DFP for serving external ads, and replaces Reddit's in-house ad management system for native advertising.[125][126][127][128]
2013 April 26 Acquisition Ad serving Facebook acquires Atlas Solutions from Microsoft for $100 million, in order to enrich its already bustling advertising platform.[129][130][63][131]
2013 May 1 Standard change End user control standard Apple announces that it is discontinuing accepting apps that use its deprecated identifier (the UDID) starting this date. Apple had announced the discontinuation of the identifier in August 2011 and introduced a replacement (the IDFA and IDFV) in June 2012.[132]
2013 September 20 IPO Demand-side platform Rocket Fuel IPOs. Shares double on the first day of trading. This is the most successful ad tech IPO of 2013.[133]
2013 October Launch Social media advertising Instagram, a popular image sharing platform, releases its feature of having sponsored posts appear on user's feeds.[134]
2013 October 30 IPO Demand-side platform, retargeting Retargeting-focused DSP Criteo IPOs on the NASDAQ, initially pricing its shares at $31.[135][136]
2013 October 31 Standard change End user control standard Google announces that it is replacing "Android ID" with "Advertising ID" on Android devices. The move is analogized to Apple's move from UDID to Identifier for Advertising (IDFA).[137][138]
2014 January 16 Open release Real-time bidding standard The first commit on the GitHub repository for the OpenRTB standard is recorded.[139]
2014 February 24 Acquisition Data management platform Oracle acquires data management platform (DMP) company Bluekai.[69]
2014 March 24 Launch Social media advertising Pinterest, a creative image sharing platform, launches it Promoted Pins service which allows for additional advertising in a user's feed.[140]
2014 June 23 Launch Ad blocking UBlock Origin, a very prominent ad-blocking extension for web browsers, launches.[141]
2014 June 30 Launch Viewability standard The Media Rating Council releases Version 1.0 (Final) of its Viewable Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines.[142]
2014 July 18 IPO Video advertising Video advertising platform TubeMogul IPOs at $7 per share (half of its original intended IPO price), and rises 50% on its first day of trading.[143][144][145][146]
2014 November 14 Launch* Ad serving Facebook re-launches Atlas.[147]
2015 May 12 Acquisition Ad serving Mobile data carrier Verizon acquires AOL for $4.4 billion; the main value of the acquisition to Verizon is the ad technology owned by AOL. The deal is expected to help Verizon target ads better to users across devices, through the combination of AOL's ad tech and data and Verizon's data.[148][149][150]
2015 July 19 New feature Header bidding The first commit for Prebid.js on GitHub is made by Paul Young.[151] Prebid.js is a project at AppNexus to facilitate header bidding integrations.[152][153]
2015 September 3 Acquisition Ad serving Verizon-owned AOL confirms the acquisition of Millennial Media for $238 million, to expand in mobile ads.[154]
2015 November 2 New feature Ad serving Google DFP launches First Look, to allow buyers to access high-value users early on, and allow publishers to bring in high-value inventory at a higher priority than reserved impressions. Commentators view this as Google's answer to header bidding.[155]
2016 April 13 New feature Ad serving Google announces that First Look is available to all DFP clients globally, and that it is testing exchange bidding in dynamic allocation (EBDA) with select partners, including Index Exchange and Rubicon Project.[156] The move is seen as an effort to reduce the value of or need for header bidding.[157][158]
2016 June 14 Launch Social media advertising Snapchat, a popular messaging app, begins to include advertisements between user's "stories".[159]
2016 June 30 Shutdown Ad serving Apple shuts down the iAd app network and disbands the sales team, in favor of a new publisher-driven system.[160][161]
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 began to block Facebook's blocking in a back-and-forth "war."[162]
2016 September 15 Launch Association 17 companies including the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Google, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, GroupM, and the Washington Post form the Coalition for Better Ads.[163][164][165][166]
2016 September 21 IPO Demand-side platform The Trade Desk IPOs, and within a day, is trading at 60% more than the IPO offer price. It is the only "pure ad-tech" IPO of the year.[167][168]
2016 September 26 Acquisition Ad serving Applovin is acquired by Chinese private equity firm Orient Hentai Capital for $1.42 billion.[169][170]
2016 September 27 Launch Ad guidelines The Interactive Advertising Bureau introduces updates to its guidelines to address different ad sizes and formats, including 360 degree video, autoplays, emojis, and other emerging formats.[171]
2016 October 3 Acquisition Data management platform Salesforce acquires Krux for $700 million and rebrands it as Salesforce DMP.[172]
2017 February 10 Third-party verification Viewability standard Facebook agrees to have its ad serving audited by the Media Rating Council.[173][174]
2017 February 21 Third-party verification Viewability standard YouTube agrees to have its ad serving audited by the Media Rating Council.[175][176]
2017 February to April Controversy Ad serving Google has a "brand safety" fiasco, after The Times of London publishes an article showing that advertisements are being shown alongside "extremist" YouTube videos.[177] As a result, advertisers and agencies, initially in the United Kingdom,[178] and later in the United States as well, pause their ads on YouTube.[179] In response, Google promises to make improvements to its process for determining videos that are safe for ads, and also to give advertisers more visibility and control into the sort of content their ads are being shown against.[180][181]
2017 March 28 Lawsuit Ad serving UK-based news webite The Guardian sues the Rubicon Project for allegedly not disclosing its fees when buying the publisher's inventory.[182]
2017 March 31 New feature Ad serving Google announces that it is removing the "last-look" advantage for Ad Exchange in exchanging bidding in dynamic allocation (EBDA). Previously, all exchanges other than the Ad Exchange would have to submit bids first, and Ad Exchange would submit the final bid. Now, Ad Exchange would submit its bid along with all the other exchanges.[183][184]
2017 April 18 Acquisition Ad measurement (search, viewability) Oracle acquires ad measurement company Moat for $850 million.[185][186][187]
2017 April 20 Ad fraud The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) gives its 463 members until June 1, 2018 to register with the Trustwothy Accountability Group (TAG), the digital ad industry’s program to fight fraud and other criminal activity, to remain eligible for continued membership in the industry’s leading trade association.[188]
2017 May Launch Social media advertising Snapchat begins rolling out its self-serve ad manager for buying video Snap Ads.[189][190]
2017 May Ad fraud The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab introduces ads.txt as a tool that can help ad buyers avoid illegitimate sellers who arbitrage inventory and spoof domains.[191]
2017 May 23 Launch Social media advertising Quora launches a self-serve ad platform. Previously, advertising on Quora was open only to a small number of select partners.[192][193][194] Initial advertiser feedback praises the interface and the cost-effectiveness but asks for larger reach and more granular targeting options.[195]
2017 June 1 Shutdown Ad agency AudienceScience shuts down after losing Procter & Gamble, its biggest client.[196]
2017 November Information Political manipulation At the request of the United States House Intelligence Committee, Facebook publishes details of political advertisements bought in 2016 by social media accounts based in Russia, many of which were suspected to be connected with the Internet Research Agency, a company with Kremlin ties. This is amidst suspicion that the influence of these advertisements could hvae led to Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 election.[197][198] Subsequently, Rob Goldman, vice-president of ads at Facebook, would say that sowing division in United States politics, rather than electing Trump, was the goal of these ads, citing a protest in Houston, both sides of which appear to have been orchestrated by the fake social media accounts.[199]
2018 May 25 Regulation End user control standard, general privacy standard The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect on this date. GDPR imposes a number of restrictions and requirements around how companies can collect user data, what information they need to make available to end users if asked, and end users' right to request that their data be erased. It is expected to have significant impact on the advertising and third-party data ecosystems, both in the European Union and worldwide.[200] GDPR is expected to have some impact on the operations of Google[201] and Facebook.[202] It also leads to two US-based ad tech companies (location-based mobile marketing platform Verve and cross-device marketing platform Drawbridge) quitting Europe.[203][204]

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

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

  • The first iteration of the timeline was created by Avi Glozman on Wikipedia with payment from Vipul Naik, who also provided a list of event types and some sample events to get started with. The completion of the iteration (at the time of import into Timelines Wiki) is here.
  • The second iteration was worked on by Vipul Naik. The methods used in this iteration include:
    • Reading through recent posts and archives of digital advertising and digital content publications like Digiday and AdExchanger to get a better qualitative sense of the sorts of topics discussed around digital advertising.
    • Using web search engines with various search keywords that combine ad tech terms with history terms, along with date range selection tools in search, to get a bunch of pages that talk of the history of ad tech. Then, using the lists of companies and events obtained this way and explicitly searching with those as keywords to get more specific data on them.

What the timeline is still missing

The timeline is lacking in a few important respects:

  • It does not provide a clear sense on the timeline of migration to digital for advertisers who have (or previously had) a big advertising presence. A number of lists of largest advertisers is available online.[205][206]
  • It does not give enough importance to advertising agencies, the intermediaries between the companies on behalf of which advertisements are made, and the DSPs or ad networks that actually manage ad pacing, bidding, and delivery. Advertising agencies are responsible for designing ad creatives and manage the relationship with the DSP (or sometimes directly with the ad network or publisher). They again pre-date the Internet, so their migration to digital (or the evolution of new digital-focused agencies) is worth understanding. Examples include Havas and GroupM.
  • More coverage is needed of "brand safety" issues.
  • More coverage is needed of issues related to viewability, ad fraud, and third-party measurement and verification.
  • Maybe a row or two on hacks such as floor price optimization, and other evolutions in the real-time bidding space?
  • More coverage of attribution and connection with offline purchases (to the extent that it strongly connects with online advertising)

See also


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  2. 2.0 2.1 "NSFNET - The Internet Launching Pad". www.livinginternet.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "History of Online Display Advertising | Vantage Local". www.vantagelocal.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "The History of Online Advertising". AdPushup Blog. 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  5. "Nifty 50: THE INTERNET". www.nsf.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Electronic Commerce - CHM Revolution". www.computerhistory.org. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Online advertising: A history from 1993 to the present day [infographic]". Marketing Tech News. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  8. Wasserman, Todd. "This Is the World's First Banner Ad". Mashable. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  9. "AOL Buys Everyone". tidbits.com. Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "A Brief History of NetGravity". Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  11. "About: Our Story". Interactive Advertising Bureau. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  12. "DoubleClick Inc.: Private Company Information - Bloomberg". www.bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Hallward, Derek (July 28, 2015). "A Brief History of Retargeting Cross-Device". AdBrain. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  14. Ni, Perla (May 27, 1999). "The American Dream: Running Your Own Show" (PDF). AsianWeek. 
  15. "Ali Partovi on LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  16. "Company Info". LinkExchange.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 1998. 
  17. "About Connexity". Connexity. Retrieved April 3, 2017. 
  18. Heine, Christopher (27 October 2014). "20 Years of Digital Advertising: From Banner Ads to Sponsored Snapchats". Adweek. Adweek. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  19. Dignan, Larry (May 18, 2007). "aQuantive: Who are these guys? The instant messages and emails about Microsoft's $6 billion purchase of aQuantive go something like this: Whoa that's a big deal. I'd hate to be short aQuantive.". ZDNet. Retrieved April 13, 2017. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Cook, Karla (12 September 2016). "A Brief History of Online Advertising". HubSpot. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  21. Zuckerman, Ethan (August 14, 2014). "The Internet's Original Sin. It's not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web.". The Atlantic. 
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