The term digital marketing was first used in the 1990s, but digital marketing has roots in the mid-1980s, when the SoftAd Group, now ChannelNet, developed advertising campaigns for automobile companies: People sent in reader reply cards found in magazines and received in return floppy disks that contained multimedia content promoting various cars and free test drives.
In 2000 a survey in the United Kingdom found that most retailers had not registered their own domain address. 
Digital marketing became more sophisticated in the 2000s and the 2010s, when the proliferation of devices' capability to access digital media at almost any given time led to great growth. Statistics produced in 2012 and 2013 showed that digital marketing was still a growing field.
Digital marketing is often referred to as 'online marketing', 'internet marketing' or 'web marketing'. The term digital marketing has grown in popularity over time, particularly in certain countries. In the USA online marketing is still prevalent. In Italy, digital marketing is referred to as web marketing. In the UK and worldwide, however, digital marketing has become the most common term, especially after the year 2013.
Digital media growth is estimated at 4.5 trillion online ads served annually with digital media spend at 48% growth in 2010. An increasing portion of advertising stems from businesses employing Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) to tailor advertising for internet users, but OBA raises concern of consumer privacy and data protection.
New non-linear marketing approach
In an evermore complex retail environment, customer engagement is essential but challenging. Retailers must shift from a linear marketing approach of one-way communication to a value exchange model of mutual dialogue and benefit-sharing between provider and consumer. Exchanges are more non-linear, free flowing, and both one-to-many or one-on-one. The spread of information and awareness can occur across numerous channels, such as the blogosphere, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and a variety of other platforms. Online communities and social networks allow individuals to easily create content and publicly publish their opinions, experiences, and thoughts and feelings about many topics and products, hyper-accelerating the diffusion of information.
The Nielsen Global Connected Commerce Survey conducted interviews in 26 countries to observe how consumers are using the Internet to make shopping decisions in stores and online. Online shoppers are increasingly looking to purchase internationally, with over 50% in the study who purchased online in the last six months stating they bought from an overseas retailer.
Using an omni-channel strategy is becoming increasingly important for enterprises who must adapt to the changing expectations of consumers who want ever-more sophisticated offerings throughout the purchasing journey. Retailers are increasingly focusing on their online presence, including online shops that operate alongside existing store-based outlets. The "endless aisle" within the retail space can lead consumers to purchase products online that fit their needs while retailers do not have to carry the inventory within the physical location of the store. Solely Internet-based retailers are also entering the market; some are establishing corresponding store-based outlets to provide personal services, professional help, and tangible experiences with their products.
An omni-channel approach not only benefits consumers but also benefits business bottom line: Research suggests that customers spend more than double when purchasing through an omni-channel retailer as opposed to a single-channel retailer, and are often more loyal. This could be due to the ease of purchase and the wider availability of products.
Customers are often researching online and then buying in stores and also browsing in stores and then searching for other options online. Online customer research into products is particularly popular for higher-priced items as well as consumable goods like groceries and makeup. Consumers are increasingly using the Internet to look up product information, compare prices, and search for deals and promotions.
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