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25 Years of Marketing Technology Trends: 1999-2003

Take a stroll down marketing memory lane with these notable technology advancements from Geonetric’s first five years in business!

Geonetric was founded in 1999, and as you can expect for any company that’s been around 25 years, things looked very different back then. 

When it first started, Geonetric specialized in creating websites and web applications for companies in a variety of industries — not just healthcare. Marketers didn’t have to worry about what their website looked like on a smartphone, how many followers they had on Facebook or LinkedIn, or their search engine rankings.  

The last 25 years have brought with them a tidal wave of new technologies that impact not only our team but also the digital marketing and healthcare industries as a whole.  

To celebrate Geonetric’s 25th anniversary and to showcase just how far we’ve come since 1999, we’re kicking off a blog series highlighting some of the most significant technology breakthroughs and trends we’ve encountered, with thoughts from Geonetric CEO Ben Dillon on how these concepts have shaped the work we do as an agency today. 


Geonetric’s first year in business was an interesting one in the digital world. The potential Y2K bug loomed large, and the concept of search engine optimization — tailoring the content on a website to make it easier for people to find it — was starting to gain steam. 

While Geonetric was primarily a technology company at the time and hadn’t started providing marketing or SEO services, “the idea that things had to be findable was definitely starting to emerge,” Dillon said. 

“[It was] nothing like the sophistication we have now, in terms of understanding what people are looking for when they come to find your site, or understanding what the search engines were doing,” Dillon explained. “Early on, it was really about ‘How do we present this data?'” 


The first year of the New Millennium saw the launch of Google AdWords. While it wasn’t the first search advertising platform to exist, AdWords’ cost-per-thousand impressions model returned an impressive $70 million by the end of its first year. 

That number wasn’t enough for AdWords to financially overtake Overture, a pioneer in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising that had launched in 1998. But AdWords’ competition with Overture planted the seeds for Google to shake up the PPC game in just a couple of years. 


The first cell phones with 3G internet access were released in 2001, but the prohibitive cost of data meant that many consumers wouldn’t use the feature for years.  

“The web was still, in a lot of ways, relatively new, relatively niche… mobile was not a big consideration for a long time,” Dillon said. “But it did grow from that point. Those were all steps along the road to say, ‘Ok, the phone can actually be a fully functional front end to this internet thing.'” 


Google AdWords officially adopted a PPC model in 2002, bringing with it an increased focus on targeting and ad relevance. AdWords’ Quality Score metric didn’t just award ad position based on the company’s bid amount, but also on how relevant the ad was to the user’s search query.  

This shift meant that both large and small companies could compete for ad space with relevant, high-quality ads and even target consumers by their home country or language. 

Today, AdWords plays a key role in both search engine optimization and search engine marketing, services Geonetric provides for many of its clients. AdWords allows us to launch display ads that help build our clients’ brand awareness and target consumers while they browse the web, watch YouTube videos, check their email, and more. 


WordPress came on the scene in 2003 as one of the first dedicated blogging platforms, and Geonetric utilized it to host blogs for a number of its website clients. 

It would be years before WordPress grew into the content management platform it is today, but its launch heralded the start of a shift toward organizations connecting with consumers more through content marketing and thought leadership. It was a change that did meet with some resistance, Dillon explained, as many corporate websites at this time defaulted to “a very formal voice and tone” and weren’t used to having to regularly write content.  

“At the time, lots of organizations looked at it as this thing to put cute little blog posts up. We worked to convince organizations that they should have their CEO do a blog, or you should have a corporate blog to talk about health issues, or talk about things going on in the organization.  There was never a place for content like this to live before blogs came about,” Dillon said.  

“A lot of organizations struggled with ‘What should we write about every week?’ And we’re like, ‘What we’re seeing is the ones that are successful are actually putting things out several times a week. You might have to write more than one post a week for this thing to work out.” 

Since initially working with WordPress sites, Geonetric has since developed its own proprietary content management system, VitalSite. VitalSite is designed specifically for healthcare organizations, with HIPAA privacy regulations and end-user privacy in mind.

What’s next? 

Our 25th anniversary trip down memory lane continues in two weeks with our look at 2004 through 2008, an era that launched social media marketing, personalized search results, and more. 

If you’re looking to leverage today’s marketing tech trends and Geonetric’s 25 years of experience to propel your organization into the future, contact us today!

Our team is ready to put their decades of experience to use to help you navigate the ever-changing digital marketing landscape and prepare you for whatever’s coming next. 

25 Years of Marketing Technology Trends: 1999-2003