[Intern Insights] Digitolution: The digitalisation of Marketing

The History of Marketing in a Nutshell

The concept of marketing has changed. It dates as far back to the merchants in Ancient Greece, selling their goods on the markets, and even further to the very beginning of human trade in the first civilisations.

Over the course of time, marketing has become a broad discipline. It has many elements such as branding, advertising, sales, market research, and analytics. All these factors can no longer be clearly separated, connecting all departments within a company.

In the 20 Century, newspaper and television advertisements dominated. Today, we find ourselves in the age of social and digital marketing, with augmented reality just around the corner.

Despite its evolution, the goal of marketing has remained the same: to persuade the consumer to make the purchase.

Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing

I grew up during the time of mass advertising. When I watched television I was bombarded by advertisements for things that I had no interest in, interrupting my TV activity. With today’s digitalized streaming, all that has changed. Companies have access to data that enables a better understanding of an individual’s needs and interests and thus enable tailored advertisements.

20 years ago, marketers used cold-calling techniques or creating advertising campaigns that interrupted daily activities in order to catch people’s attention.  It was annoying and invasive, but it was the only way to do it.

Nowadays, marketers connect with prospects by making information they want easier to find. They still reach out, but the focus shifted to optimising the consumer experience, using digital channels and creating valuable content to attract a defined audience. This approach is called “inbound marketing”.

A few years ago, inbound marketing and terms such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Mobile Website Optimisation (MWO), Facebook Ads – and, trust me, this list is very long – were completely unheard of. Today, marketers use these terms on a daily basis.

The Information Highway

With the rise of the Internet, information is readily available by everyone, at all times. Information scarcity is no longer an issue; this has shifted the power from the salesman – and outbound marketing tactics – to the consumer, thus creating a need for inbound marketing tactics.

This isn’t as simple as it sounds: the immense amount of information available at our fingertips leads to much of it being discarded or ignored. – Imagine, every minute more than 300 hours of video material is uploaded to YouTube and over 4 million posts are liked on Facebook! [WERMS, 2015] – The overload of information means people learn to tune it out. In this jungle of information, creating and optimising unique content that stands out has become an art and skill set all of its own. Rather than ‘information scarcity’, marketers have to content with “attention scarcity”. The overload of information requires people to filter what is of interest; it isn’t easy to capture the attention of any target audience. This has transformed the buying process.

Modern Marketing

Having left the times of one-way company-to-customer communication and the “quick- sell approach” behind, marketing today is about building long-term relationships. It’s about generating a consumer relationship with the brand, interacting with consumers by providing inspiring and relevant content that engages and caters to the gain and pain points of a clearly defined target group. People are very good at blotting out messages they don’t want to hear; today’s content needs to be tailor-made to get people to read it.

The increase of marketing intelligence and corresponding data analytics provides more accurate insights into consumer behaviour.

Big Data’s possibilities

Big data – extremely large data sets that can reveal insights about patterns, trends and relations, especially related to consumer behaviour and interaction – will allow better decision making for a company. The possibility of soon having very accurate 360-degree pictures of customers, even capturing current emotional states shows that technology not only automates processes; with the right use of data, marketing can be “humanised” and provide personalised messages.

This effectively can create a need before the customer is aware of it, that can be used within all industries, with the retail industry certainly profiting a lot from the advanced methods that will ease the process of predicting consumer trends, forecast the demand or optimising the price.

As tempting as that avenue of marketing sounds it remains a challenge to make the most out of the collated data. It remains a challenge to choose what is relevant to measure. Especially, in the end, it’s all about the individual consumer, to be able to break the big amount of data down into small bits and pieces.

“The future of marketing isn’t big data, it’s big understanding.” – Jay Bear

Where do we go from here?

With all the advancements in technology, the unlimited access to information at any time, and the empowerment of consumers, companies have never had to give so much to their prospective customers simply to convert them.

Digitalization has affected every field, and marketing is no exception. Working in marketing provides the chance to experience a very tech-innovative field.

It sparks my curiosity. How will marketing continue to evolve? What new job positions will become the norm? How will innovations such as sensor-based technology, seamless integration, and augmented reality change the marketing landscape?


This post is brought to live by AQ’s Undergraduate Alexa Vollmar.
As part of our internship programs, undergraduates and classic interns are encouraged to take part in company culture. Alexa’s primary focus is in digital marketing.