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Overview & History


Digital advertising terms don't have to be overwhelming. Check out our digital glossary to quickly look-up important definitions.

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Digital is a dynamic and ever-growing space. In this section, we give an overview of digital's history and the direction it is taking for the future.


Mediaocean's Digital Marketing Field Guide aims to provide a high-level overview of the digital marketing world in a short, easy to understand package, with plenty of visuals and a robust glossary to answer your questions.

If you work in digital marketing, it's more than likely you've seen a derivative of the now infamous "lumascape" that displays the myriad of players and technologies that make digital marketing incredibly complex and exciting - however, it's also easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you're a Prisma user or simply interested in learning more, Mediaocean suggests participating in its monthly Digital 101 webinar, hosted by the Mediaocean training team.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the strategy and processes that connect advertisers with their audiences across digital channels. An advertisement itself is a piece of creative shared via digital inventory - the space a publisher makes available for advertisements on its platform. 

Digital refers to a number of different channels, all used to uniquely engage audiences and tackle various goals of the conversion funnel. The channels include display, search, mobile, social, and video. It is considered "Inbound Marketing" in that it reaches out to audiences while also letting them reach back out.

Thanks to digital's vast amounts of targeting technology and capturing of personal data, marketers are able to reach both large audiences and more granular segments without compromising scale. This includes being able to target by specific attribute including demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and more. Not only can marketers target groups of people, they can also target specific devices and even individual users regardless what device they may be using.

In addition, digital marketers are especially determined to measure success of campaigns. A number of user engagements can be tracked such as impressions, clicks, website hits, leads, and actual purchases. In as much, digital makes it easier than traditional media to track Return on Investment (ROI), helping marketers to see the efficacy of their campaigns and make better decisions for optimization and the future.

How has digital marketing evolved?

Digital Marketing History Graphic Guide

How does digital differ from traditional advertising?


Traditional refers to linear TV, print, radio, direct mail, and out-of-home (often known as billboard) advertising. A key differentiator of these medias is that the messaging is a one-way conversation. This defines traditional as "Outbound Marketing" in that it reaches out to consumers, but consumers do not communicate back.

In addition, traditional's targeting is much broader as it is defined by only an estimate of viewership. If an advertiser wanted to execute more granular targeting by coupling different demographic and behavioral attributes, they would be unable to, as publisher audiences are more loosely defined with traditional media.

The final major difference - which is often times used as a point of argument among the two sides, is traditional’s absence of measurement methods. If a potential customer views an ad on linear TV and later buys that product in-store - it is impossible for marketers to connect the action back to the advertisement. What marketers are able to do instead, is measure sales lift prior and post campaign. Another method is including a specific phone number or email address in advertisements whenever possible, so that conversions can be directly attributed.

Traditional Media vs Digital Media Digital Marketing Guide

How does digital marketing stack up against traditional marketing in the modern era?

A recent report by Zenith Optimedia concluded that between 2013 and 2016, digital ad spend will grow from 16.8% to 20%, while mobile will grow from 2.9% to 8.2%. While television will still hold the majority of ad spend, other major media such as print and radio, will see a decline.

Share of Global Ad Spend by Medium Percentage Digital Marketing Guide