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Digital, Online, Internet Marketing – What’s the Difference?


Digital, Online, Internet Marketing – What’s the Difference?

I thought I’d write a little article about the history of digital marketing terminology.

I believe there is some ambiguity over whether digital marketing, internet marketing and online marketing are one and the same thing and if not, what is the difference?

I’ve noticed through my work in the digital sector that things have changed over time for one reason or another, so I thought I’d investigate why.

Personally, I’ve heard less and less people saying “internet marketing” or “online marketing” and in the same way fewer agencies referring to themselves as internet or online marketing agencies. This trend can be seen below by looking at data from the last 7 years for those three search terms:

Digital marketing trends


The terminology “digital marketing agency” has been on a fairly steep rise from 2011 onwards, whilst internet marketing agency and online marketing agency have been steadily declining. We can safely say that despite the fall in searches for these terms the actual businesses and individuals in need of these services is on the rise as can be seen here in the next graph:

digital marketing search trends

I believe that more people are using “digital marketing” related search terms when actually trying to find information relating to “online marketing” because they don’t understand the subtle difference. I see digital marketing as the umbrella to online or internet marketing. Digital marketing isn’t synonymous with online marketing but it actually covers a far broader range of digital channels, devices or platforms such as; billboards, DTV, mobile/tablet, podcasts, radio etc…The mode of communication and customer behaviour differs.

As an agency, especially one that offers SEO as a service, we need to know what people mean when they type certain search phrases into Google – this is referred to as ‘Searcher Intent’.  We know from experience that people typing “digital marketing agency” into Google are, 99% of the time, interested in online marketing.

There are many categories of digital marketing, some old and some new, but what is clear is that the number of new forms of digital marketing that are becoming prevalent is not declining. Inevitably these types of niche marketing will be spoken about and searched for online, with the outcome being that “digital marketing” will be used as an alternative and therefore interest in that search phrase will continue to grow.

[tweetable alt=””]”The terminology #digital #marketing agency has been on a fairly steep rise from 2011 onwards “[/tweetable]

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