Ten Years of Learning on How Online Advertising Builds Brands

Nigel Hollis
Millward Brown

Online advertising began in 1994, but accurate (and audited) spend data first became available in 1996. Figure 1 illustrates the year-on-year growth of online advertising spending from 1996 onward and highlights the medium's roller coaster ride to date.


The first simple static banner appeared on HotWired in 1994. The advertisement asked, “Have you ever clicked your mouse right here?” and an arrow pointed to a button that stated “You will.” When people clicked on the button, they were taken to the AT&T site. (Note that integrated online and offline campaigns are nothing new. The “You Will” phrase was also the tagline for the TV advertising campaign running at the time.) HotWired remained at the forefront of online advertising for several years, and in 1996 conducted the first test of online advertising effectiveness in conjunction with Millward Brown (Millward Brown and HotWired, 1996). The research was conducted using an experimental design that compared survey response from those exposed to the test advertisement to those exposed to a control advertisement.