The face of advertising continues to shift and change with each passing year, ushering in new ways for businesses and brands to reach audiences. The internet completely revolutionized the experience of advertising for consumers and businesses alike, and made it possible to reach new audiences in a much more cost effective way. Fifteen years ago, Google AdWords emerged as a solution for businesses and brands in the digital realm, and the game hasn’t been the same since. Today, we’ll walk through the past 15 years of Google AdWords and explore how its past and present have shaped marketing for everyone.

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Humble Beginnings

In the fall of 2000, Google launched its AdWords offerings to the world and boasted about having just a few hundred clients. During these times, Google was a much smaller player in the world of online search, which made it difficult at first for AdWords to become any megalithic monster like it would several years later. With tens of millions of daily searches on Google, though, the service slowly began to be noticed by online marketing companies that wanted to reach new audiences in a targeted and timely fashion. Despite the hoopla, the first Google ad program was actually launched earlier that year: Premium Sponsorships was comparable to AdWords, but offered marketers the top spot in search engine rankings.

    1. Market Dominance

Throughout the first decade or so of Google AdWords, there was relatively little competition for ad dollars through services so prevalent as search engines. Other search engines began to experiment with their own ad offerings, but a large number of social media and digital media websites – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Bing – didn’t exist yet. This made it possible for Google AdWords’ clout to grow alongside Google’s overall dominance in the search engine industry. As more and more search engines stopped operating or were bought by other companies, the field became less crowded. This sent Google AdWords on a path of exponential growth for several years. As millions of searches per day became hundreds of millions of searches per day, the demand for targeted ads from marketers grew.

    1. The Present

In the modern era, online internet ad spending is highly concentrated. Search advertising is on the verge of claiming a majority of that once again, with Google AdWords holding nearly a super-majority of that ad spending, with Microsoft’s search engine Bing far behind in second place. Google AdWords has become a true monopoly in many senses of the word over the past 15 years, with more than three billion searches performed every single day. The nature of AdWords had to change along with most of Google. For instance, a majority of Google users now perform a majority of their searches from mobile devices. With these challenges and more facing all internet ad companies in the coming years, Google AdWords may be the best positioned of them all to deliver to the world an effective, targeted and adaptive solution – much as it has since 2000.