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A Look at Digital-Age Marketing

The rise of internet use in the 1990s and the more recent advent of social media have coincided with a decline in print advertising. In 2018 -- and for the first time ever -- Americans were more likely to see an advertisement online than on television, according to research by the media investment organization GroupM. The shift toward online advertising means continued growth for digital-age marketing.

The Decline of Newspapers and Print Media

Marketing as we know it today -- targeted ads designed to influence consumer behavior -- came into practice in the late 19th century, largely through ad space bought in newspapers. Marketing evolved in the mid-20th century as radio, television and magazines diversified the media landscape.

Beginning in the 1990s, widespread use of the internet again changed how marketers reached customers. As Americans gained newfound access to news and entertainment online, often for free, daily papers struggled to maintain readership and subscription levels. The loss of revenue from classified advertising, especially after the launch of Craigslist in 1995, was particularly damaging for print newspapers, according to Harvard Business School professor Feng Zhu.

In his 2014 article "The Impact of Craigslist on Local Newspapers," Zhu estimated that, between 2000 and 2007, Craigslist was responsible for $5 billion in lost classified advertising revenue. A 2017 report from the Pew Research Center found that "total weekday circulation for U.S. daily newspapers -- both print and digital -- fell 8 percent in 2016, marking the 28th consecutive year of declines."

The Rise of Digital-Age Marketing

Beyond the opportunities created by the advent of email and the internet, social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram have become integral to digital-age marketing. A recent HubSpot blog post highlighted the role of digital marketing professionals.

"A content marketer can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new e-book the business recently created," the article said. "The company's social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business's social media accounts. Email marketers create an email campaign to send those who download the e-book more information on the company."

Among the tactics used by digital marketing agencies are:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the use of keywords and other components to improve a website's online ranking.
  • Content Marketing: the promotion of content assets through blogging, infographics and online brochures.
  • Social Media Marketing: the process of creating brand awareness and drawing business to websites through social media posts.
  • Email Marketing: the use of email campaigns to increase sales of products.

The internet's continued dominance on the marketing stage and the recent surge in mobile signify a fundamental shift which means continued growth for digital marketing.

Learn more about STU's online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.


HubSpot: What Is Digital Marketing?

NPR: This Is Your Brain on Ads: How Media Companies Hijack Your Attention

NBC: Who Murdered the Newspaper Business?

Pew Research Center: Circulation, Revenue Fall for Newspaper Industry

Harvard Business School: The Impact of Craigslist on Local Newspapers

GroupM: The State of Digital

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