The Evolution of Pre- to Post-Click Advertising Innovation

The Evolution of Pre- to Post-Click Advertising Innovation

Digital advertising technology has evolved tremendously since the first online ad arrived in 1994. From generic display ads all the way to advertising automation, there’s no arguing that online advertising innovation has completely changed the way brands market their brand, product, and service.

Today, we’ll look at how pre- and post-click advertising began, how they evolved; where the industry is today, and the next evolution in advertising conversions–Post-Click Automation.

Pre-click digital advertising innovation

The earliest years: Display, search, and Google Ads

It’s hard to believe that online advertising began with AT&T’s small banner ad in 1994 with their “You Will” campaign that generated a 44% click-through rate

advertising innovation ATT display example

Banners like this allowed advertisers to quickly earn more exposure, but they weren’t quite sure who they were exposing their ads to. The banner ad did, however, set off an advertising innovation chain reaction to follow for the next 20+ years, starting with PPC.

PPC search ads empowered advertisers more granular targeting by bidding on search queries containing relevant keywords. The highest bidder automatically won the highest placement on the SERP, but ultimately led to poor user experiences because it was a model built solely for those who bid most, not what searchers found valuable. Enter Google Ads.

It’s hard to believe that Google Ads launched with only 350 advertisers where its auctions based ad positions on factors that contribute to Quality Score, like landing page experience. Post-launch, the platform has made countless enhancements:

  • Site and interest targeting
  • Adding bid simulator tools
  • Introducing sitelinks
  • Remarketing technology
  • Seller Rating extensions 

The year 2000 saw the first mobile ad, yet the next biggest innovation was social media advertisements.

The mid-2000s: Social media ads begin

Major social networks caught momentum as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube emerged as the new hangouts for younger audiences. Meanwhile, LinkedIn was the platform of choice for networking professionals. Instagram, Pinterest Quora, and Reddit would later follow, accumulating users and establishing a diverse audience that brands could tap into. All platforms eventually developed their own advertising capabilities. Every social network has since grown in popularity, coinciding with the number of martech options introduced to the market.

In 2011, less than 150 marketing technologies existed. Today, that number eclipses over 8,000 total technologies:


As vendors increased, it opened a world of advanced techniques for advertisers, which led to the evolution of automation.

The mid-2010s: Advertising automation ignites

Digital marketing automation can be traced back to the ’90s, but the industry exploded during this decade with many new advertising innovations:

  • Ad scheduling & bid adjustments
  • Automated bidding
  • Content automation, AI & machine learning 

All of that aside, too many advertisers have traditionally focused on earning the click. The problem is, ad campaigns don’t end with the ad. The post-click stage matters just as much because that is where conversions happen.

Post-click digital advertising innovation

Landing pages introduced

When a user clicks an ad, they expect the resulting page to continue the same narrative as its referring ad–not a generic page like a homepage or about us page. It’s for that primary reason that 96% of ad budgets are wasted on clicks that don’t convert:


That’s why post-click landing pages were introduced. Post-click landing pages are standalone pages created for the sole purpose of getting a visitor to convert. Look how these brands continue the same narrative from ad to page:

advertising innovation Daily Harvest coupon example
advertising innovation Daily Harvest landing page
  • The images and fonts match in both the ad and page
  • The $25 coupon story continues from ad to post-click page
  • The main benefits listed on both (built on organic fruits & vegetables, delivered, ready in minutes)
  • No exit links on the page, so the page is focused on redeeming the $25 coupon
online advertising innovation Syracuse paid search example
online advertising Syracuse landing page
  • The URL, headline, description, and ad extension all mention the search query
  • The post-click page headline matches the search query
  • The “Skip the GMAT” story continues from ad to page
Aspiration Facebook display ad
  • The same credit card image demonstrates message match from ad to page 
  • The “spend & save” story continues across both locations
  • Only one conversion goal exists on the page

Dynamic content

With landing pages established as a key asset in advertising campaigns, marketers needed a way to automatically adjust the content based on audience targeting for increased relevancy. This is where dynamic content technology was introduced that offers automatic contextual relevance from ad to post-click page.

Post-click optimization (PCO) introduced

Post-click optimization bridged the gap between the ad and the conversion and improves the odds visitors will convert. It begins with an optimized post-click landing page and ends with a personalized thank you page and email, using techniques like persuasive copywriting, A/B testing, and conversion rate optimization.

Too much manual work involved led to a more automated solution–hence Post-Click Automation.

PCO evolves into Post-Click Automation (PCA)

Post-Click Automation (PCA) is a specific martech category enabling marketers to maximize advertising conversions by automating the post-click stage and delivering 1:1 personalized experiences at scale.

PCA is an extension of post-click optimization but with automated two-way syncing ad-to-page mapping:

post-click technology pillars

Tech-enabled services emerge

With post-click personalization now more vital than ever, tech-enabled services like Postclick have become essential in advertising campaigns. Complete with proprietary technology and digital advertising experts, Postclick is a managed service solution that combines conversion expertise, comprehensive strategy, and proven processes.

By assessing your advertising funnel, customer segmentation, and campaign goals, the Postclick team will:

  • Create a proposal that helps you deliver the highest converting post-click funnel for your advertising programs, and achieve max return from your ad spend
  • Design post-click experiences based on your personalization profile, and optimize the ad-to-page alignment to guide your visitors through a consistent journey to conversion

Postclick develops an end-to-end digital advertising strategy, delivering relevant experiences that are faster, higher-converting, and more cost-effective than managing it yourself.

Get a complimentary conversion analysis

Digital advertising has evolved that you can target the exact audience you want and provide them with a unique post-click experience that gets them to convert. By taking advantage of recent innovations, you’ll maximize your ROAS, users will appreciate the personalized experience, and your advertising conversions will increase. 

We would like to offer you a complimentary analysis of your ad campaigns including competitive insights against your top 5 competitors and the top sites in your industry. Our team will share insights on how we can increase your conversion rates, in addition to a comprehensive competitive analysis.

We will review your campaigns to analyze your post-click health, compare your site against industry and competitive benchmarks, and identify the most effective opportunities to increase your ROAS. Request your analysis here.

Stephanie Mialki
by Stephanie Mialki

Stephanie Mialki is a Content Writer for Postclick. She is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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