7 of the biggest changes to digital marketing in the past decade

Changes to Digital Marketing in the past Decade
29 Jan 2020

Unless you have been under a digital rock for the past year, you will have seen that Cariad Marketing has spent the last 11 months raising £10,000 for Isabel Hospice, which was our chosen charity of the year. Not only did we reach this target, but we also SMASHED it, raising nearly £12,000 for this fantastic charity.

Whilst we loved the fundraising we did, it was a challenging task so we won’t be repeating this for our 11th year (for that amount anyway – watch this space for our new charity of the year 2020). But as our 10th year in business comes to an end next month, and we begin to look forward to a new decade, we wanted to reflect on how Digital Marketing has changed in the last 10 years (a bit different to the normal #10yearchallenge you may have been seeing on social media!).

Having started out in marketing over 20 years ago now, I’ve noticed that there has been quite the change in marketing in general. It’s been a real whirlwind of new, exciting developments in the industry, including trends, technology, best practices and, of course, how we can work best with our partner – Google! Here are the 7 main changes that have made a massive impact in the last 10 years.

Social Media

Developing social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter increasingly became a priority for businesses in the early part of the decade, and there was a growth in social media presence certainly for the big players in the business. Since then, consumers have been getting savvy as to how their favourite (and not so favourite) brands present themselves on social media, and more and more are taking it upon themselves to voice their opinions. Thus, social media changed from just “having a presence” to having a strategy, tone of voice, brand guidelines, managing expectations with responses to posts and, of course, managing both negative and positive comments on different platforms.

Perhaps the most revolutionary change in Social Media was the introduction of paid advertising. Suddenly, having a Facebook Page, LinkedIn Company Page and Twitter weren’t enough. Unless people were actively looking on your page they would miss your beautiful posts. Targeted advertising, from the data, that the social media platforms had collated, meant that companies could laser target their demographic for quite a reasonable price (depending on how competitive the industry is), and began to pose real competition for print advertising!


When it came to having a website, it wasn’t just critical that you had one (many companies still had not moved into this area), but the importance of mobile marketing was about to explode (the first iPhone was put on sale in 2007 and other smartphone manufacturers quickly followed – remember the slogan “there’s an app for that” on the first of the iPhone adverts?).

As a business, serving your target market on their mobile devices was now becoming important with larger companies seeing the importance of a website with a mobile version plus an app as well to cover all aspects of the business. Fast forward to the end of the decade and those must-have websites are no longer so much of a necessity. As long as the app is available and working, the desktop version isn’t needed (think how easy the social media platforms are to navigate from your smartphone compared to a desktop).


YouTube was also becoming huge for the new decade. Then just 13 years old, but now a superstar, Justin Bieber famously was noticed from his novice YouTube channel which led to the amazing rise of a new group of celebrities called “YouTubers”. Previously just being used for amateurs to showcase a special talent, this home movie platform has now turned into one of the biggest search engines in the digital space and is an advertiser’s dream.


“Content was King” back in 2010 and this is still accurate 10 years later. However, how that content is being viewed by Google and other search engines now differs. From early on, keyword stuffing was the priority (think of a great phrase or keyword for your business, and copy and paste this all over your website – that’s keyword stuffing). User experience became much more key towards the latter end of the decade, with search engines favouring quality over quantity. SEO consultants now have to work very hard to keep ahead in the rankings!


2010 was the year that Ask.com (previously Ask Jeeves) was finally put to rest in the Google Graveyard. This was the first of many in Google’s quest for Digital World Domination. Development of advanced algorithms meant that Google made the switch from being a reference website to delivering a very personal experience indeed– meaning that you get served the ads you didn’t even know you were looking for!

Consumer expectations

The past decade has also seen the rise of the savvy consumer. We have turned into supersleuths when it comes to researching the brands we are after, starting with price, reviews, social media activity, the security of the website and ease of ordering or contacting. We are a pretty hard bunch of people to please and the digital marketing world has to react to this. Hence the reason why Google is choosing user experience now when it comes to the audience the business will serve. And what happens when things go wrong? Not happy with just picking up the phone to complain, we now turn to social media to complain and get as much bad press as we can for the company, not to mention leaving pretty damning reviews on Google. The consumer digital space is a cruel place to be at times and all clever businesses will have put strategies in place to deal with it.


Perhaps one of the biggest shifts over the past 10 years is the creation of jobs within marketing that would never have existed before. Do you have quite a few followers on your Instagram page? Do you like sharing pictures of make-up? If so, then you are (or can become) an Influencer. Are you quite good at making videos and presenting to people? If so, that makes you a “YouTuber”. Alongside these fun job titles, they are now important job roles that form the infrastructure of any thriving marketing department or agency, such as:

More roles like these will be created as digital marketing evolves and marketing teams respond to the changes and expand. All of the above fall into the job titles of the Cariad Team!

So a lot can happen in 10 years. We’re looking forward to seeing what changes come about over the next decade when Cariad turns 20!


Colette Cooper

Client Services Team Manager Colette is usually the first friendly face new clients meet and is always ready to impress with her marketing knowledge and experience. She’s a fitness fanatic, devoted to her family and a sucker for charitable causes.

More about me

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