The Evolutions of Marketing Technology Across 5 Decades

By Rachel Lambert


Marketing technology is constantly evolving to keep up with digital demand. As we look back at the reigning technologies of the past 5 decades we see how far we have come and can imagine the potential of the future. The key to success in the marketing world is agility: the ability to adapt and change to meet the needs of a constantly evolving landscape. 

The world of modern digital marketing is a far cry from its humble beginnings. Throughout the decades, we have seen growth within marketing technologies and strategies that we could have never imagined 50 years ago. From expansive MarTech stacks and implementation and data collection platforms for hyper personalization to implementing automation strategies to streamlined marketing campaigns, the world of marketing technology is constantly developing innovations that push the limits of the industry.

Marketing technology continues to evolve, it’s not a single piece of technology but rather an amalgamation of different solutions that reflect the decade in which they made their impact. Some solutions evolved in other industries but they eventually landed in the marketing tech ecosystem because of adaption or acquisitions. In order to understand where the future of marketing technology is headed, it is important to take a look at where it has been.

Database Marketing, 1980's:

Systems were mostly onpremise mainframes, managed by IT, heavy in SQL, highly structured data and, in most cases, at the family, household and individual level. 

Marketing Automation, 1990’s:

Technology was primarily used by marketers, along with the rise of commercially accessible databases and PCs, and home-grown analytics layered on top of databases.

Multi-Channel Campaign Management, 2000’s:

Timed with the rise of household access to the internet, acquired B2C scale and A/B testing by channel and across channels becomes mainstream because of UI making it easy to have nontech folks drive campaigns. 

“CDP,” 2010’s:

Customer databases and marketing automation for multi-channel automation gets traction, real-time consumer interaction management becomes mainstream, especially with real-time social data. 

Future, 2020 and beyond:

Automation across the consumer fulfillment supply chain becomes mainstream, UI is more intuitive and includes multisensory and voicebased UI’s. Hyperpersonalized communication across channels and across time will become expectations of consumers. 

In Closing

Marketing technology has come a long way over the past 5 decades. What we as marketers know to be true is that marketing tech and strategy will continue to transform with a myriad of new and different solutions bubbling to the top.

As proven by the accelerated changes we have seen over the past 18 months, the consumer market drives the innovation with agile marketing teams and organizations rising to the occasion to meet the demand.

Looking to the future, we know that we are on the cusp of the next evolution. The 2020’s will prove to be the era of transparent firstparty data collection with a focus on consumer privacy and agile automation strategies. It is hard to know exactly what the future of marketing technology will look like, but one this is for certain, the next 5 decades are sure to produce innovations that will vastly outshine those of the past.


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