A Decade in Review, From a Marketing Perspective

by Amy La Sala

January 7, 2020 at 11:02 am

Wow. What a decade it’s been! Here’s a look back at some of the biggest changes in social media, advertising and marketing overall.


On Oct. 6, Instagram debuted. What began as a modest photo-sharing platform has evolved into an entirely new phenomenon. The app upgraded dozens of features (hello, Insta Stories), gave rise to a video streaming platform with IGTV and created its very own thumb-stopping, Insta-worthy vocabulary. Anyone else guilty of whipping out the camera for a boomerang at happy hour? That’s right. We’re out here, like you, doin’ it for the ‘gram.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without Instagram at our fingertips. From branded Insta-stickers, emoji sliders, time-stamped countdowns and direct access to online shopping – what’s not to love? With more brands flocking to the ‘gram there was increased use of paid #ads and #sponsored posts, which gave way to new marketing laws and advertising monitoring. We can only image what Instagram has in store for the next decade.


Raise your hand if your phone is never further than an arm’s length away at all times. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️ The answer for you and millions of others is, in fact, rarely ever. 2011 was deemed the year of mobile marketing, where brands could connect and message with mobile users in mere minutes.

With improved data analytics and tracking consumer behavior and preferences, mobile marketing became tailored to consumers. Mobile coupons drove in-store traffic and started to produce real-time results. These marketing efforts provided businesses an opportunity to start a dialogue with its customers. Later in the decade, we experienced how individualized the communication became as the data grew increasingly more customized.


A consumer advocacy movement occurred in 2012 where online reviews became the authority on brand experience and reputation. The rising popularity of user-generated review platforms such as Yelp, Angie’s List and TripAdvisor gave a voice to consumers at massive global scale. As a marketer, this was new territory for us and the brands we represented.

Suddenly, consumers were dictating where companies needed to improve, and which ones were worthy of our time and money. As we moved toward a more customer-oriented marketing world, engaging with consumers while being transparent became a must. Now the over-saturation of reviews has led to a downplay in its ultimate power, while other factors such as branding and corporate sustainability have come into play.


Breakups tend to happen from time to time. But in 2013, this breakup was epic. We’re talking about the demise of our relationship with cable TV. More than 30 million people decided this was their year to try something different and opted for the streaming service, Netflix.

In 2013, Netflix became the pioneer of original content, churning out favorites such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Streaming TV content has changed the way many of us consume media. Those of us who broke up with cable: We now get our news from our phones, laptops and social media. Plenty other brands followed Netflix including Amazon, Hulu and even Disney.  We’re calling it now: these won’t be the last.


“Alexa, play music.”

“Alexa, set an alarm for 8 a.m.”

“Alexa, wash the dishes.“

In all seriousness, where would we be without Alexa by our side? In November, Amazon introduced the first version of the Amazon Echo to Prime members. Since then, many cannot live without their in-home personal assistants to provide the weather forecast, read an audio book or remind them what’s on their grocery list. Now, other devices like Google Home actively compete for consumers’ attention.

“Alexa, tell us, what’s next for 2020? “


In April 2015, Apple released the Apple Watch as a health-oriented fitness tracking system paired with wireless connection to our phones so we could text and call at a moment’s notice. The next generation of Apple’s story was officially upon us.

The high-tech fashion accessory sold millions in just the first quarter.

It outsmarted other fitness trackers on the market and continued to upgrade with new communication and content capabilities. For instance, the latest Apple Watch models have their own data system. Now we can speak directly into our watches without having to fret if our phone’s nearby.


Millennials entered the market as the largest workforce in 2016 where they reconstructed what the modern corporate job looked like. These ‘90s kids emphasized the importance of corporate social responsibility, have a deep reverence for the environment and care about building relationships. They tend to thrive with teamwork projects and open floorplans.

A refocus on the generational approach and the differences (and similarities) among other generations like Gen X and baby boomers, gave companies the chance to build a stronger and better business with these audiences in mind.

Next year will have us eyein’ Gen Z. They’re coming!


Does anyone else remember chat bots? In 2017, a more talented version of the chat bot garnered popularity. Brands looking for more efficient ways to communicate with consumers and improve customer relations incorporated bots into their business.

Visit a company website? Get greeted by a bot, patiently waiting to help in the search for your next purchase. These calculated steps informed consumers they were immediately taken care of in their quest for the perfect sweater, blender or car without having to stay on hold for hours on end waiting for a representative.

This personalized attention was yet another way technology was helping businesses bring their customer service back to basics with one-to-one conversations.


Facebook fades as Instagram continues to thrive.

When Facebook purchased Instagram for a whopping $1 billion dollars back in 2012, it was a bit puzzling at first. However, in 2018 when Instagram surpassed the aging Facebook platform with one billion active users, it all became clearer. Instagram was no longer a “young person’s” social media channel as more and more 20- and 30-somethings took to Instagram over Facebook, as did their parents, causing extreme growth of the platform.


Speaking of Instagram, the platform made headlines again when it was announced the social giant was testing the removal of likes from public view. What a punch in the gut to social influencers, celebrities and bloggers with billions in endorsements on the line.

The decision to remove likes came from a desire to get back to what was important to the platform, which was sharing content without users stressing over the number of likes they received. As a homage to mental health, the platform decided to move forward with testing this new system in several countries, including the U.S. and around the world. With more than a billion users, what do you think is next?


And now, here we are. We made it. 2020. What will this new decade mean for the advertising industry, communications pros, #agencylife and consumers? Let’s toast: Whatever the new year brings, we’ll embrace new technology, continue to drive transparency for ourselves and our clients and seek to understand each other a little better. Cheers!

January 7, 2020 at 11:02 am

Amy La Sala

A skilled PR strategist and runner for hire, Amy gets her morning news via Twitter and is captivated by the latest global health headlines. She’s a marathoner and newly certified personal trainer, sharing her views on exercise, weight loss and health and fitness technology, along with the unfolding drama that has become professional sports.