In October 1994, the Internet experienced something groundbreaking: the first banner ad appeared on hotwired.com, now WIRED.com.
The ad was sponsored by AT&T and aimed to promote seven art museums. According to its creator, Joe McCambley, the ad experienced a 44-percent CTR—proving nearly 260x more effective than today’s average of 0.17 percent.
Instead of bombarding users with messaging, early banner ads were a part of a brand’s overarching advertising campaign, playing a role in fully immersing consumers in an ad experience. But as more people joined the Internet, albeit at a painstakingly slow speed, a massive industry was born. Seemingly overnight, scores of ad tech firms popped up, offering advertisers new ways to put their brands in front of consumers.