Marketing practices have always been determined by technology. Printing technology enabled the rise of popular newspapers in the mid-19th century, which allowed advertisers to target consumer audiences based on their demographics, education, political preferences and interests. Early brand marketers realized that they could differentiate from their competitors by speaking to the right audiences rather than just the biggest ones. Mass publishing eventually led to direct mail marketing, whereby companies could reach specific households based on their particular interests as reflected by their newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
Digital communication and the internet changed all of that. Instead of passively receiving marketing messages from their televisions and newspapers, consumers became active seekers of information. Starting in the 1990s, brands had a new marketing channel to leverage: the owned website. This shifted the dynamic of the consumer/brand relationship. The rise of the internet meant that brands could identify and speak directly to consumers who actively wanted to learn more about their business.
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