Has technology fundamentally changed how companies court customers?

Executive Summary

Have you logged onto the Internet today? Used a mobile phone or tablet? Then you have seen digital marketing: ads that pop up on whatever website you are viewing. Not to mention placements on Google—and podcasts, electronic billboards and text messages, all vying for your attention (and business). You also likely have received invitations to play electronic games and become eligible for rewards, with—no surprise—tie-ins to products. All these channels are transforming today's advertising landscape. Since its arrival in the late 1990s, digital marketing has increasingly driven brand promotion. It's interactive and allows companies to collect user feedback immediately. These advantages mean that the growth in advertising is taking place in digital marketing. But its newness also means that businesses have to get creative to find the most effective campaigns.

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Boyd, Danah, “It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens,” Yale University Press, 2014. Boyd, a principal researcher at Microsoft and a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, defends teen social media use.

Quart, Alissa, “Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers,” Basic Books, 2003. Media critic slams extreme consumerism and the way corporations pursue teens and preteens.

Ryan, Damian, “The Best Digital Marketing Campaigns in the World II,” Kogan Page, 2nd ed., 2014. CEO of the Global Academy of Digital Marketing profiles 40 digital campaigns between September 2012 and September 2013, describing their approach and hard-to-obtain ROI “results” figures.

Ryan, Damian, and Calvin Jones, “Understanding Digital Marketing: Marketing Strategies for Engaing the Digital Generation,” Kogan Page, 2nd ed., 2012. Two experienced online marketers discuss in detail strategies for search, social media, mobile and more.


Davenport, Thomas H., “Lessons on Big Data Marketing,” CIO Report blog, The Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mnplgp2. Babson College professor of information technology looks at the growing influence of data marketers.

Davenport, Thomas H., and D. J. Patil, “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century,” Harvard Business Review, October 2012, http://tinyurl.com/kam2tg3. Two academics examine the demand for big-data professionals.

Heine, Christopher, “Walmart's Social Is Getting 10X ROI and Tens of Thousands of Daily Interactions,” Adweek, Oct. 4, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/pdzvc3e. Walmart's CEO talks about return on investment and social media strategy.

Hoffmann, Melissa, “A Glimpse into Marketers' Social Media Strategies: Even the Big Guys Struggle to Measure ROI,” Adweek, Sept. 16, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/muw2lql. Infographic compares results of two studies that examine how companies measure returns from digital campaigns.

Marczynski, Joe, “Game of Thrones: Digital Marketing is Coming,” LabelMedia, June 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/qdlwu66. British advertising agency writer examines the much-praised “Game of Thrones” digital marketing campaign.

McCambley, Joe, “Stop Selling Ads and Do Something Useful,” Harvard Business Review blog, HBR.org, Feb. 12, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/mxgbxg5. One of the creators of the banner ad takes a critical look at how Web advertising has evolved over two decades.

Petersen, Robert, “11 Studies Prove Digital Marketing ROI,” Rutgers Business School, Dec. 19, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/lawqa2y. Executive who teaches MBA class on digital marketing examines 11 studies about return on investment from online strategies.

Schaefer, Mark, “Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy,” Grow blog, Jan. 6, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/k5ylnb3. Digital marketing expert describes how the exploding amount of content marketing is not sustainable.

Stampler, Laura, “How Dove's ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ Became the Most Viral Video Ad of All Time,” Business Insider, May 22, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/l6eun2w. Dove's much-shared “Real Beauty Sketches” ad succeeded by touching emotions.

Wasserman, Todd, “This is the World's First Banner Ad,” Mashable.com, Aug. 9, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/l9jl2q4. On Mashable, business and marketing editor defends banner ads.

Woodyard, Chris, and Jane O'Donnell, “Your Car May Be Invading Your Privacy,” USA Today, March 13, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/ccv9t8z. Cars collect increasing amounts of data about their drivers, which worries some privacy advocates.

Wyatt, Edward, “FTC Fines Yelp and TinyCo for Violating Children's Privacy Rules,” Sept. 17, 2014, The New York Times, http://tinyurl.com/luwo5d9. The Federal Trade Commission fines a company for violating a children's privacy rule.

Reports and Studies

“The Advertising Industry's Process of Voluntary Self-Regulation,” Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, Jan. 1, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/m9ya3ru. The Children's Advertising Review Unit, a subgroup of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, lays out its rules on advertising products for children.

“Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule,” Federal Trade Commission, accessed Jan. 23, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/l4lbplj. FTC rule tells marketers what they can and can't do in regard to children's privacy.

“.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” Federal Trade Commission, March 2013, http://tinyurl.com/ppa9mf2. The FTC lays out its blogger disclosure rules for bloggers promoting products.

“ITU releases 2014 ICT figures,” International Telecommunications Union, May 5, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mdhykxt. United Nations agency provides annual updates to an array of statistics related to telecommunications and Internet access globally.

Madden, Mary, “Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era,” Pew Research Internet Project, Nov. 12, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/p2536wh. Surveys find that Americans are concerned about privacy, but are willing to share information with companies when they receive free services in return.

McLellan, Laura, “Presentation for CMO Spend Survey 2015: Eye on the Buyer,” Gartner Inc., 2014, http://tinyurl.com/k49ren5. White paper examines digital promotion budgets.

Other Resources

“Generation Like,” PBS Frontline, Feb. 18, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/q3oy6gw. “Frontline” documentary examines how marketers are using teens' online activities to promote brands.

“History of the Web,” World Wide Web Foundation, undated, accessed Jan. 23, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/npmj85s. Foundation established by the inventor of the Web provides a detailed, hyperlinked history on a site full of information about the

The Next Step

Marketing to Children

Chaker, Anne Marie, “Traditional Toys Add Digital Apps for Children Who Learned to Play on Tablets,” The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 2, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/kbvmdgp. To sell to an increasingly digital generation of children, companies such as Mattel and Hasbro are adding mobile applications to their traditional lineup of physical toys.

Evich, Helena Bottemiller, and Chase Purdy, “FTC not surveying junk food marketing to kids,” Politico Pro, Dec. 31, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mkhnesa. Federal Trade Commission officials say the agency will not follow up on its 2008 and 2012 reports monitoring food industry spending on digital marketing to children.

Flacy, Mike, “Study: U.S. teens abandon Facebook and cling to iPhones,” Digital Trends, Oct. 7, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mm8q95u. The mobile picture-sharing app Instagram has become a more popular marketing channel for reaching teens than Facebook, according to a study of consumer trends by investment bank Piper Jaffray.


Alton, Larry, “Will Consumers Revolt Against Pervasive Online Advertising?” Entrepreneur, Nov. 12, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/l3m7snu. A former entrepreneur suggests growing consumer dissatisfaction with ads on websites and social media will drive more Internet users to adopt advertisement-blocking browser extensions and join anti-advertising social media platforms.

Henschen, Doug, “SAP Helps Marketers Use Facebook Customer Data,” InformationWeek, Nov. 11, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/otl7qey. The German software corporation SAP will begin collecting audience data from Facebook for marketers and retailers, allowing companies to target Facebook audience segments and individual users.

Mitchell, Rick, “Consumers of Online Digital Content Need New Legal, Privacy Protections, OECD Says,” Bloomberg BNA, Oct. 27, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mvezvtl. The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends governments do more to prevent Internet providers and marketing companies from collecting citizen data.

Search Marketing

Frommer, Dan, “Why Google's earnings “miss” wasn't actually that bad,” Quartz, Jan. 31, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/pzf57d3. Despite Google's missed earnings mark for the fourth quarter of 2014, investors say they are optimistic about the company's future because of year-over-year growth in its core businesses—search, ads and applications—and a refined network of partner companies.

Peterson, Tim, “Amazon Tops List of Google's 25 Biggest Search Advertisers,” Ad Age, Sept. 15, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/m48u6g4. The Internet retail giant Amazon, one of Google's biggest advertising competitors, spent almost $158 million for Google search advertisements in the United States in 2013.

Winkler, Rolfe, “Ads Tied to Web Searches Criticized as Deceptive,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 13, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/nvq5gdk. The major search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing have inadequately distinguished advertisements from regular websites in their search results, according to some consumer advocates.


Bond Jr., Vince, “Study: Twitter Marketing Drives $716 Million in Car Sales,” Ad Age, Oct. 28, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/lud8eqa. Research by a marketing analytics company shows advertisements, brand mentions, rebroadcasts of TV ads and automotive company activity on Twitter led to $716 million in sales of 20 car models in 2013.

Ha, Anthony, “Twitter Expands Its Ad Retargeting To Include Data From Mobile Apps,” TechCrunch, Dec. 9, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/o4wdlkk. A new product from Twitter will enable companies to target Web users with advertisements by using mobile Twitter user activity data.

Nusca, Andrew, “Why IBM and Twitter did a data analytics deal,” Fortune, Nov. 3, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/mzo8aw8. Executives from software provider IBM and social media network Twitter say a partnership between the companies will allow IBM clients to analyze user data for marketing research and will encourage more companies to reach customer audiences using Twitter.


American Marketing Association
311 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606
Professional association for marketers and marketing academics; founded in 1937.

Commercial Alert
1600 20th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009
Project of the public interest group Public Citizen that aims to “keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere.”

Digital Advertising Alliance
1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036
Consortium of media and marketing associations that collaborates with businesses, public policy groups and public officials; advocates industry self-regulation.

Digital Analytics Association
401 Edgewater Place, Suite 600, Wakefield, MA
Nonprofit association of individuals and organizations who work with data acquisition, exploration and application.

Direct Marketing Association
1100 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036
Trade association and lobbyist for direct, database and interactive marketing fields.

eMarketing Association
40 Blue Ridge Drive, Charlestown, RI 02813
International group of digital marketers that runs conferences and certification programs.

Internet Marketing Association
10 Mar Del Rey, San Clemente, CA 92673
Professional organization that includes marketers, business owners, Web developers and others.

Worldwide Privacy Forum
3108 Fifth Ave., Suite B, San Diego, CA 92103
Nonprofit research group that concentrates on digital privacy, including medical privacy and the data brokerage industry.

DOI: 10.1177/2374556815573711