An Interactive History of Google AdWords

The AdWords of today bears little resemblance to its earlier incarnations, but it’s easy to forget just how far AdWords has come since its humble launch on October 23, 2000 – when WordStream Founder and CTO Larry Kim was among the very first 350(!) advertisers to use AdWords at launch.

In honor of AdWords’ 16th anniversary, we took a look back through the years to create this interactive history of AdWords. Some of the events in this AdWords timeline were truly monumental, and would forever change not only Google as an organization, but the very landscape of online commerce itself.

How to Use the AdWords Timeline

  • To get started and advance through the events of the timeline, click the black ">" chevron on the right-hand side of the graphic

  • To move backwards through the timeline, simply click the "<" chevron on the left-hand side of the graphic

  • You can click and drag on the timeline bar beneath the slides to scrub through the timeline

  • Click individual events on the timeline to be taken to that event slide

  • The two magnification icons on the left-hand side of the timeline enlarge and reduce the scale of the timeline, respectively

  • To start over from the beginning, click the "Back" arrow beneath the magnification icons

The AdWords timeline was created using TimelineJS, a free data visualization tool developed by Northwestern University’s Knight Lab.

From everyone at WordStream, many happy returns to AdWords! Here’s to many more years of innovation and growth.

A History of Google AdWords

  • October 23, 2000 – AdWords launches with a total of 350 advertisers, including Larry Kim

  • February 2002 – major AdWords overhaul, introduction of CPC pricing

  • October 2002 – AdWords opens its second APAC office after Tokyo in Sydney, Australia. AdWords’ first client in the region is eBay Australia.

  • March 2003 – Google launches Google AdSense

  • April 2003 – Google acquires Applied Semantics, the company whose technology enhances the AdSense service

  • March 2004 – Google and its approx. 800 employees move into “The Googleplex,” the company’s iconic campus headquarters at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California

  • August 2004 – Google files its IPO of 19,605,052 shares of Class A common stock, at a value of $85 per share

  • November 2005 – Google Analytics is launched, based on the technology behind Urchin, a company Google acquired in March 2005

  • June 2006 – Google announces Google Checkout

  • August 2007 – Google introduces the first video ads to YouTube

  • September 2007 – AdSense for Mobile launched

  • March 2008 – Google finalizes its acquisition of DoubleClick

  • September 2008 – WordStream raises $4 million in Series A venture financing

  • November 5, 2008 – Google abandons a proposed ad agreement with Yahoo! in light of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department concerning competition in search

  • September 2009 – The DoubleClick Ad Exchange is launched

  • October 2009 – “Mesothelioma” becomes the most expensive keyword in paid search, with a cost-per-click of $99.44. The keyword would later reach CPCs of more than $900.

  • May 2010 – Google acquires AdMob

  • May 2010 – Remarketing comes to the Google Display Network

  • March 2011 – Google for Nonprofits is launched

  • July 2011 – AdWords Express launches

  • August 2011 – WordStream launches the AdWords Performance Grader

  • June 2012 – Google Product Search becomes Google Shopping, and transitions from an organic to a paid business model

  • February 2013 – Enhanced Campaigns are launched

  • May 2013 – Keyword Planner officially launches, replacing the retired Keyword Tool in AdWords

  • June 2013 – RLSA made available to all advertisers after almost a year in closed beta

  • June 2013 – Larry Kim named Most Influential PPC Expert by PPC Hero

  • October 2013 – Estimated Total Conversions announced

  • April 2014 – Query referral data goes ‘Not Provided,’ though some data still available through Search Terms report

  • August 2014 – Website Call Conversions announced

  • September 2014 – Ad customizers are introduced

  • February 2015 – Call-only campaigns announced

  • May 2015 – Google confirms mobile search volume surpasses desktop search volume for the first time in 10 countries, including the United States and Japan.

  • May 2015 – Universal App Campaign type announced

  • September 2015 – Native Gmail Ads launched

  • September 2015 – Customer Match announced during Advertising Week’s Times Center Stage in New York City

  • October 2015 – Shopping Remarketing Lists introduced

  • December 2015 – Google introduces Smart Goals

  • January 2016 – Google AdWords app launched for iOS

  • February 2016 – Google eliminates PPC ads from the right-hand side of the SERP, a bold move toward a ‘mobile-first’ approach to AdWords

  • July 2016 – Expanded Text Ads officially launched

  • September 2016 – Facebook surpasses 4 million advertisers – a figure we believe to be higher than the total number of advertisers on Google AdWords

  • September 2016 – WordStream’s AdWords Performance Grader celebrates its 1 millionth report

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