Mary Meeker is a
venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst. Her primary work is on internet and new technologies. Since 1995, she has produced an Internet Trends Report that has become a must-read for online marketers and businesses.
The 2019 Internet Trends Report is 334 pages long, which means there’s a good chance you haven’t read it. So I read it for you.
This TL;DR version is a synopsis of all of the relevant details I thought you would want to know. It’s not a comprehensive review of the report, so if you want to know everything it contains, you’ll need to read the entire report yourself.
Table of Contents
- Platforms people spend the most time on
- Content consumption trends
- Companies are growing using the freemium model
- Ecommerce continues its expected growth
- Advertisers are spending more on paid ads but getting less for it
- The impending reduction of internet usage
Platforms people spend the most time on
There aren’t any big surprises about which platforms people spend the most time on. Facebook continues to be the big winner with ownership of four of the top ten platforms.
- FB Messenger
Nextdoor was also mentioned as a platform that’s useful for hyper-local targeting.
Content consumption trends
Digital video continues to grow. The report stated that digital video accounted for 28% of total watch time versus 72% being attributed to TV.
As video grows steadily, the biggest content consumption trend is actually with voice. Total podcast listeners reached 70mm in 2018 and is expected to double within the next four years. The podcast trend is also getting a boost from Google Search. Google now displays podcasts in its own carousel.
Stories is another content format that’s on the rise. Not only is it growing on social platforms, but Google is also planning to leverage AMP to allow publishers to include Stories directly in its SERPs.
Paraphrasing from a quote Meeker included from Kevin Systrom, Co-founder of Instagram, it’s believed that the reason why Stories have the most impact on people is that our brains are wired for images. It’s not about sharing images; it’s about communicating something, telling them a story, taking them on a journey.
Companies are growing using the freemium model
Meeker stated that the freemium model continues to be successful for many online businesses. She included mentions of Dropbox, Slack, and SurveyMonkey as standouts.
I recently asked Matthew Howells-Barby, Director of Acquisition at HubSpot, about the success HubSpot has had with its freemium offering, and this is what he had to say.
We believe that our freemium model is a huge step forward in removing friction in the adoption process. We’ve consistently added new features to the free tier of our products, and we’ll continue to do so in the future.
Meeker stated that freemium enables more usage, engagement, social sharing, and network effects, while the paid (premium) option of a freemium model drives monetization and product innovation. She also stated that freemium services wouldn’t be feasible if it weren’t for the existence of cloud computing and efficient payment systems.
Ecommerce continues its expected growth
Ecommerce isn’t just growing; it’s also doing it at a much higher rate than retail stores. Consumers find online shopping more convenient, and the barrier to starting an online store is much lower than creating a retail business thanks to platforms like Shopify.
A key ecommerce trend mentioned in the report was the increased use of images being used for product discovery and commerce through social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
Advertisers are spending more on paid ads but getting less for it
Ad revenue continues to rise for Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snap. That correlates with data showing that companies are spending more than ever on paid advertising. However, the increased spend is not resulting in more value. The overall Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is increasing and is encroaching on Lifetime Value (LTV), which Meeker sees as a threat to the growth of online advertising.
To combat the increase in CAC, Meeker recommends reducing churn and focusing on other methods for customer acquisition. To reduce churn, she suggested that businesses focus on product quality and work on keeping customers happy. For customer acquisition, she suggested using free trials to get people into the sales funnel and incentivizing existing customers for friend referrals.
The impending reduction of internet usage
Meeker thinks we’ll see people using the internet less instead of more.
Consumers are aware of concerns about Internet usage overload & are taking steps to reduce usage – leading USA-based Internet platforms have rolled out tools to help monitor usage & social media usage growth appears to be decelerating following a period of strong growth. Privacy & problematic content concerns are also top-of-mind & are following similar patterns.
Most of us know someone who has minimized their presence on social networks or has left them altogether. I think this trend will continue as more people start to attribute their unhappiness with their internet usage.
While this trend may make it more difficult to advertise and influence people, it will also create new opportunities for attracting and connecting with disaffected consumers. For example, a service could be created that aggregates and provides filtered personal synopses of friend activities and current events. It could be marketed under the guise of helping people spend less time online but still keeping them informed on things that matter to them most.
Regardless, I’m still hopeful that a decentralized social network will replace proprietary networks in the future, and that it will be free of addictive algorithms, traditional advertisements, and commercial interests that outweigh the interests of its users.
That’s the end of the TL;DR version of the 2019 Internet Trends Report. I hope you found it useful.