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02 December 2019 by Danielle Brill

Recapping the 2010s: How Digital Marketing Has Changed Over the Past Decade

The 2010s are drawing to a close, and we’re taking stock of the major advances in digital marketing practices over the past ten years. There is little doubt that the 2010s will go down in the history books as the decade of unprecedented developments, not only in the online marketing space but in the world at large. Here are some of the biggest ways digital marketing has changed over the past decade.


Perhaps the biggest change of all has been the prioritization of mobile. Our mobile phones are always with us. We use them for everything from taking pictures and messaging friends to searching for information or shopping for clothes. Taking this into account, marketers have had to shift their focus from traditional marketing avenues such as flyers, magazine and newspaper ads, and allocate a large portion of their marketing budget to mobile platforms such as social media and messaging apps.

Mobile advertising has also grown at a rapid rate. These days, it’s impossible to scroll through our Facebook or Instagram newsfeeds without coming across an ad. But these ads haven’t been around for nearly as long as it feels – Facebook only introduced mobile ads in 2012. Just six years later, 93% of their advertising revenue comes from mobile ads alone.

The importance of having a mobile-friendly website also came to the fore in the 2010s. Back in 2012, one study of 1100 adult smartphone users found that 66% of them were more likely to buy on mobile-friendly sites, and 50% wouldn’t use a business’s site it didn’t work well on their smartphone. The importance of mobile-friendliness was further solidified in 2015 when Google began using this as a significant ranking factor in its algorithm. Mobile-friendliness is now a non-negotiable for all websites.

The rise of messenger apps

This decade saw the rise of one of the most versatile marketing channels: messenger apps. Can you believe that the top three messenger apps in the world (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat) weren’t even around 10 years ago? Today, WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users worldwide, Facebook Messenger 1.3 billion, and WeChat more than 1 billion.

But it’s not all about the user count – these mobile platforms allow businesses to have one-on-one conversations with customers when, and wherever, they are. This is especially useful as a study by Facebook IQ found that 56% of people would rather send a message than call for customer service. 50% are also more likely to purchase from a business they can message.

Specialised targeting

Marketers were also given numerous new ways to reach consumers. One such example is Facebook’s ‘lookalike audience’ targeting function, launched in 2013, which enables advertisers to reach potential customers who share similar characteristics to their existing ones. A powerful targeting tool indeed!

Remarketing rolled out in Adwords in 2010, retargeted ads began appearing in Facebook users’ newsfeeds in 2013, and in Twitter feeds from 2014. These brand-new targeting options meant that advertisers could begin serving ads to people who had visited their website or shown an interest in their products or services. Today, retargeting is undoubtedly an essential tool in the online sales funnel.

Influencer marketing

This decade also saw the rise of a unique way to reach potential customers – through social media influencers! This new marketing avenue opened up a wealth of opportunities to reach highly relevant audiences. Simply by partnering with influencers who share similar interests and follower demographics, businesses can now reach a specific audience more likely to have an interest in their products and services.

Ephemeral content marketing

As our lives started becoming more fast-paced, so did our desire to consume content that is quick and entertaining. Along came ephemeral content – short “stories” with a 10-15 second cap and limited life span, usually 24 hours.

The ephemeral content craze can be traced back to October 2013, with the launch of Snapchat Stories. It wasn’t long before Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp began offering Stories functionality of their own. Despite being non-existent just six years ago, 68% of story users between the ages of 13-54 in 12 countries worldwide now use stories at least once per week, according to a recent Ipsos survey.

What will the next decade hold for the digital marketing industry? That remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain: marketers and business owners are going to have to continue levelling up to keep up.

Stay competitive in your market by speaking to the Online Innovations team today!

As specialists in digital marketing, we will ensure that your brand is well represented across search engines and social media networks.

If you’re interested in our services, please give Bronwen a call or email her for more information.

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