Big Internet Ideas 2014: Key Trends to Watch/from Big Ideas & Innovation by Jill Brennan


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If you’ve been in the online space for some time then you’ve probably heard of Mary Meeker’s annual forecast of internet trends. If not, then it’s worth taking the time to review her predictions and see how your business fares.

Ms Meeker, former Managing Director of Morgan Stanley, has been a partner in venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers since 2010. Ms Meeker’s respected report is revered partly because she has been studying all things online since 1995 and because of her knack of being able to predict trends as they are unfolding.

You can view her full report here. At over 160 slides it’s a lot to take in. In this article I’ve highlighted 4 key takeouts for business.

Shift to Mobile Advertising

One of the charts that Ms Meeker presented focussed on where consumers spend their time compared to what is being spent on advertising in that medium. While most were roughly in-line with each other the two areas that had the largest discrepancies were print and mobile.

Only 5% of time is spent consuming print media, however, this accounted for 19% of advertising spend (albeit both were declining year on year).

For mobile, the figures are reversed: 20% of time is spent consuming media via mobile but it attracts only 4% of advertising spend (and both had increased year on year). This lag maybe a reluctance to change but also probably reflects the challenges of how best to effectively advertise via mobile and is going to be a large growth area for both businesses and creative agencies.

Effectively Using Big data

There has been a lot of talk about big data for a few years now. Ms Meeker argues that the three key issues that need to be grappled with are complexity, privacy and volume. While maintaining the privacy of consumer data will always be important, finding ways to utilise the complexity and the ever increasing volume of data is going to be one of the biggest challenges for business. Ms Meeker points to 34% of data in the ‘Digital Universe’ as being useful but cites only 7% as being tagged and around 1% of that data being analysed. That leaves a lot of data left to use and interpret.

To take advantage of the rich data many businesses already collect is not only going to mean more businesses employing analysts or 3 party tools or analytic system providers (or more likely a combination of all 3) to help them understand the stories in the data but is also going to entail becoming a more agile business with flexible systems that can take advantage of the opportunities identified. For those businesses that are able to make it work for them, effective and timely utilisation of their customers’ data will provide a key competitive advantage over other businesses.

What could this data utilisation look like? It could be using customer behaviour to generate recommendations for each customer like Netflix. Or making product suggestions based on specific site searches like Amazon. Or following up with members that have abandoned a shopping cart liked J Brand does.

Curated content

A trend that Ms Meeker identified, related to big data, is the demand for curated content. Businesses are not alone in being overwhelmed by the masses of data available; consumers are faced with so much choice that finding what they want can be a tedious process. To get around this volume, consumers are looking for shortcuts to find what they want faster.

One of the examples Ms Meeker used to illustrate this point was the rise of single use apps over multi-purpose apps and apps that only appear when they have something to add, for example, apps that are triggered by the user’s location.

The Continued Rise of Video

With the drop in TV consumption, the increase in volume of video online, the preference for users controlling their viewing choices and the use of multiple screens at once all points to the increasing importance of online videos. Consumers want to be able to choose when and where they consume the media they are interested in.

The demand for content is high and by using more than 1 screen at once viewers are consuming more content than they did previously. It also indicates that users’ attention span has dropped.

What does this mean for business? If you’re producing ads that will be aired online then it’s worth putting considerable effort into making them interesting and worth sharing to gain traction. One way to do this is to create variations of the ads you’re displaying, not just in terms of length but presented differently or told in a story format with each ad presenting a new ‘episode’.

Ms Meeker also highlights YouTube’s new ad shortcut option which allows users to skip an ad after 5 seconds if it doesn’t appeal. This can save on advertising costs but also provides useful feedback for business on which ads are rated as more ‘viewable’ than others and the data can be used to shape future ad campaigns.

Of course, predictions are not facts and their importance may vary in the years to come, particularly in the fast changing world of technology. But there is no doubting Ms Meeker’s solid handle on stats and it’s worth using the list as a stock-taking measure to assess how future proof your business is.

How does your business handle these 4 online trends? Do you have strategies in place to take advantage of them?

Featured on: Big Ideas & Innovation

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