From Web 2.0 to 4.0: The Changes and Implications on Marketing

Isn’t it impressive?

What’s impressive?

The entire life span of the World Wide Web (WWW), from its very inception until now, is short enough to be experienced in one human lifetime; yet, the WWW has much to evolve, and will likely continue to grow beyond your years.

It’s hard to remember a time before we could enjoy the convenience of shopping from our own lounge room, or have a conversation with a friend halfway across the world, or even ask our phones a trivial question like, “My nose is runny and my armpits smell. Do I have cancer?”, only to come with a plethora of information at our very own fingertips, enough to read to last us a lifetime.

Such changes in our lifestyles were made possible through the implications the WWW had on organisations across the globe. The rise of the web opened endless opportunities to improve marketing efforts, allowing hundreds of thousands of organisations to grow like they had never before.

Web 1.0

To understand how far the WWW has come, we must first explore what it used to be. Take away all our favourite online stores, trusted search engines, needed social media, nearly every form of interactivity, rewind back to 1989, and you’re left with Web 1.0. During this time, what could be done on the WWW was incredibly limited compared to what we have access to today. Anything that could be accessed was ‘static’, meaning there was only read-only content [1]. The closest thing to an online store would be a digital catalogue of a business owner’s products and services [2].

Figure 1: Yahoo in Web 1.0
Source: World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) [3]

Web 2.0

Fast forward from 1989 to 2005, and we have the emergence of Web 2.0. According to Tim O’Reilly, this began the business revolution. The WWW was then an opportunity for users to not only ‘read’ information, but also ‘write’, allowing for “collaborative content creation and modification” [1], increasing user numbers from 45 million in 1996 to more than 1 billion in 2006 [3]. The emergence of Web 2.0 allowed access to free-to-use, ad-supported web-host services and interactive applications such as Flickr, YouTube, Google Maps and WordPress [4]. Such services allowed organisations to increase their reach to potential customers without having physical salespeople in further parts of the world – a much less expensive alternative than physically expanding their business. In terms of the marketing mix, this affected organisations’ Place and Promotion, not to mention the information available that may have allowed for advances in technology within each organisation, which would have affected Product and Price.

Web 3.0

Moving forward to Web 3.0, unlike Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, Web 3.0’s purpose was to make the web readable by machines [5]. Data, information and patterns that were relevant became linked and enabled complex human requests that could not be understood before. Such change then allowed organisations to manage data in such a way that allowed them to create personalised marketing messages to their potential and existing customers [1], increasing customer satisfaction. Organisations who harnessed the power of the web possessed information down to the level of each customer. With so many options for consumers to choose from, came increased competition, which now drives the need for constant innovation and creation, consequently improving customers’ overall satisfaction.

The WWW, for the majority of organisations, is the causative factor that enabled such large customer bases and huge financial success. As the web continues to grow and improve, bigger opportunities arise.

It would be interesting to see what the world would be like in 10, 20, 30 years’ time.

What do you think the world would look like?



[1] Choudhury, N. (2014). World Wide Web and Its Journey from Web 1.0 to Web 4.0. International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technologies, [online] 5(6). Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2016].

[2] Flat World Business, (2011). Web 1.0 vs Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0 vs Web 4.0 vs Web 5.0 – A bird’s eye on the evolution and definition. [Blog] World Flat Business. Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2016].

[3] W3C, (2010). Web 1.0. [image] Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2016].

[4] Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2016). Digital marketing. 6th ed. Harlow: Pearson.

[5] Aghaei, S. (2012). Evolution of the World Wide Web: From Web 1.0 to Web 4.0. International journal of Web & Semantic Technology, 3(1), pp.1-10.


3 thoughts on “From Web 2.0 to 4.0: The Changes and Implications on Marketing

  1. I think the WWW is getting pretty intense yet exciting. With things like big data and analytics there is so much going on for marketers which means the important thing to do is to keep up and on top of things. The challenge will be identifying the right tools and data that will work for our company and our target market.


    1. Very true! There is one point though – I know there are a lot of people who refuse to share their personal details with companies because they “don’t want to become brainwashed or controlled”. Do you think this is just the thought process of the older generations, or do you think it will become so overwhelming one day that customers will just refuse altogether? An example I saw was when Facebook removed its Messenger function within the Facebook app, and required users to download a separate app, which asked for permission to use other apps such as the Camera and Photos. There was a huge outrage and so many people refused to use the app because of this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s an interesting point. I think it’s about marketers becoming more aware if consumers concerns and in turn creating sites that respect privacy. I don’t think there will come a point where consumers refuse all together, I think even though there are those that worry there are also advocates for the cause in terms of creating harmony amongst all of their social media sites and making it easier for them to find the content and information they want.

        Liked by 1 person

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