10 Insights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

For media, marketing and public relations professionals, there’s a lot to learn from Mary Meeker’s third annual Internet Trends Report for 2016.

Brands as experiences, voice recognition and the overvaluation of print advertising are all highlights from the report. I’ve worked my way through all 200+ pages last weekend—here’s what I spotted (click to tweet)…

1. Three billion people online
Worldwide Internet usage reached three billion at the end of 2016. Growth has flattened to around 10% year-on-year since 2012 (9% year-on-year in both 2014 and 2015). However, in India growth is accelerating. It’s now the second largest internet market by users behind China, and ahead of the U.S.

2. Online advertising booming
Internet advertising in the U.S. has climbed from $23 billion in 2009, to $60 billion in 2015. Year-on-year growth in 2015 was 20%. Mobile grew 66%, and desktop 5%. Google and Facebook’s advertising businesses posted growth of 18% and 59% respectively in 2015.

3. Print advertising over valued
Print media accounts for 4% of consumer media consumption time, and 16% of advertising revenues. Radio, television and internet are more balanced. Consumption and investment track each other within 3%.

4. Mobile advertising opportunity
The discontinuity in advertising investment lies in the mobile market. It accounts for 25% of consumption, and 12% of investment. Meeker suggests this is a $22 billion opportunity in the U.S. alone. It’s an opportunity that will inevitably see further pain for print publishers.

5. Ad blocking vs. innovation
Mobile advertising is an opportunity that will create further tension between consumers and media. More than 13% of consumers use ad blockers worldwide, equivalent to 400 million users. Retrofitting traditional advertising solutions on the Internet simply doesn’t work. It’s an area ripe for innovation.

6. Products as experiences
Organizations are building services around their products, underpinned by the Internet, to create consumer experiences. Here, the Internet is used as both sales channel and means of relationship management, creating a social organization. This provides a smart means of differentiation, huge value to consumers and rapid growth.

7. Image as search and shopping
Meeker has spotted a trend for visual search. Pinterest is used by 55% of U.S. consumers for finding and shopping for products. No other social network comes close. Facebook and Instagram are used by 12% of consumers for shopping; and Twitter 9%.

8. Messaging is massive
Monthly active users on messenger apps and social networks show no sign of slowing. This is a market that has been created in the last decade. WhatsApp (1 billion active monthly users) launched in 2010; Facebook Messenger (800 million active users) and WeChat (700 million active users) in 2011.

9. Messaging commerce
Meeker points to Asia, China and the U.S. for innovation in the messenger market. In China, Weixin (WeChat) integrates social media, messaging, payment, and relationship management.

10. Voice as an interface
Improvements in hardware, software and artificial intelligent have made voice a viable interface. Accuracy rates have passed 90% for Baidu, Google and Hound. 65% of U.S. smartphone users have used voice recognition. Luma, Ford and Fiat have integrated it into products. Amazon, Apple and Google are all developing virtual assistants. It’s a nascent market but Meeker calls it out as set to go mainstream.

A version of this article can be found on Stephen Waddington’s blog.