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The evolution of the digital industry: Looking back on the last 25 years

By Olivia Atkins, Writer

October 24, 2019 | 4 min read

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Rewind the clock 25 years… 1994 was the year of fax machines, SyQuest disks and video cassette recorders but it was also the year that gave birth to the beginning of digital advertising. With the creation of the first banner ad – for a website called – the industry entered a new age of innovation and changed the course of advertising forever.

Adobe webinar

Adobe's webinar explores the research and insights from their 25th Anniversary report

To celebrate the digital advertising’s quarter-of-a-century anniversary, Adobe has released its ‘Now we’re 25. Digital advertising grows up’ report which features a range of interviews and research to reflect on how far digital has come and predict where it’s headed.

Key insights

Adobe’s senior account manager Lizzie Blundell will highlight some of the report’s key findings in a webcast hosted by The Drum. In the session, she will trawl digital’s history and recall various milestones, such as the birth of DoubleClick, Apple’s first iPhone release and the recent changes to GDPR regulations to consider what effect the dotcom movement had for marketers. She will also assess what problems were solved for advertisers and think about how global advertising spends have changed over this period.

Obviously, the digital landscape has completely changed in the last 25 years, with personalisation and targeting becoming essential parts of the creative process – something Adobe Advertising Cloud Creative now enables.


The webcast will also reveal some of the key challenges that have evolved throughout this timeframe, citing ad fraud and a lack of consistent metrics as some of the pitfalls marketers are dealing with. Blundell will look at the total spend of digital ads across various social media platforms to work out how marketers can maximise their coverage and get around these platform’s walled gardens.

Data has become increasingly important in recent years – both for measuring and capturing consumer information – yet Blundell will remind advertisers of the power and responsibility they now have. The report also expects personalisation and increased data protection to be consistent areas of focus for marketers, and Blundell will discuss the industry’s need for more connected metrics to improve measuring customer engagement.

She will also consider the changing structure of the industry and the effect of advertisers increasingly creating internal teams for traditionally outsourced functions and how this will change client-agency relationships.

Predictions for the future

The webcast will also explore the opportunities that will become available to marketers in the next 25 years – taking us up to 2044. Fusion power, virtual telepathy and China’s space program are expected to be new spaces for advertisers to explore.

Although it’s difficult to predict just how advertising will evolve in that time, there’s no doubt that the industry is on course for another evolution.

“The current climate for digital advertising conjures up a flurry of industry woes over data privacy, security, and ownership. But the silver lining is the dawn of redefined digital experiences that turns advertising into an essential part of an experience-led strategy and makes the most of a market worth more than half a trillion dollars,” said Keith Eadie, VP and general manager of Adobe Advertising Cloud.

Find out what the future of the industry will look like by tuning into the webcast, that’s taking place on 6 November 2019.

Register your interest for free here and download the full report now.

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