15 Takeaways for Online Businesses from Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report

Mary Meeker’s the queen when it comes to analyzing the Internet and technological developments. She was a Wall Street securities analyst, is currently a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB—that whale of a name deserves an acronym), and was the 77th most powerful woman in the world on Forbes’s 2014 list, which is certainly a way to intimidate guests at dinner parties and at any business meeting. 

Annually, Mary Meeker publishes her famous Internet Trends Report, a statistical whopper that weighs in on everything trending. There are a lot of insightful, engaging graphs included in the report—over two hundred, on everything from visual media to the global economy of China. The report’s full of invaluable information, meticulously researched and incredibly useful. But it can be overwhelming. What’s an online business owner to do? How to sort through the report to find which trends apply to your own business?        

Don’t worry! We’ve sifted through the report for you and chosen fifteen major takeaways from the 2016 Report that affect online businesses.

1) Mobile advertising takes off.mary_meeker_1.png

 The USA is still experiencing strong growth in its online advertising, which is excellent news for online businesses and businesses who primarily advertise online. So take a little moment to celebrate! You’re in on the trend! But what’s really interesting about this graph is that it breaks down that Internet growth by both mobile and desktop—and it may be surprising, but mobile is experiencing much more advertising growth. If you’re not mobile compatible, now might be a good time to tweak your site.

2) Google and Facebook dominate internet advertising.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_9.51.00_AM.png

 Breaking down that Internet advertising growth, Facebook and Google control 76% of the overall growth, and their ownership is only rising. If you’re not advertising through Google and Facebook, maybe consider jumping on that big-ole-bandwagon and letting that percentage help you find a bigger audience.

3)  If you are sticking to traditional advertising channels, you are missing opportunities.


Despite the continued growth and importance of online advertising, too many advertisers are still overspending on traditional media. Look at that ~$22B missed opportunity margin and don’t tell me it doesn’t break your heart. Traditional media just isn’t proving as financially effective as Internet advertising. Now might be time to reassess your advertising spending and make sure that you’re taking advantage of the Internet—especially of that gap in mobile advertising.  

4) Retail sales ramp up online.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_9.52.45_AM.png

 Not only is the Internet seeing an increase as a platform for advertising, but this research proves that the Internet is also becoming a more prominent source of retail sales, and the numbers are only rising. For online business owners, that’s an excellent sign! And for anyone thinking of taking their business to the web, it’s a great indicator that the market is an active and thriving place.

5) Adblocking presents a challenge for internet advertising.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_9.53.54_AM.png

  However, while the Internet is only becoming a stronger competitor in both advertising and retail sales, there’s also been an increase in the use of Internet adblockers. More and more users are taking preventative measures to keep annoying and unasked for ads from appearing on their screens, and adblocking software is often free and easily available—even on mobile. This isn’t great news for any company that’s simply transitioned its advertisements onto the web. So how do you compensate?

6) Video can be effective, as long as it does not interrupt the user experience.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_9.54.48_AM.png

 Because of the rise of adblocking and Internet users’ ability to ignore or mute traditional ads when they do get through (think YouTube commercials, that sort of thing), Internet advertising still isn’t as efficient as it could be. Largely this is because a lot of Internet advertising is still (a little stubbornly) sticking to interruptive media, especially with video advertisements. The report suggests some solutions that are specific to video ads, but you can apply their tips to any form of media that your company creates. If you’re creating original content that follows these suggestions, your viewers are far more likely to engage with your content and receive a stronger, more positive message toward your company. 

7) Snapchat’s 3V advertising is a powerful platform for video advertising.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_9.55.42_AM.png

 Following the last graph, the report uses Snapchat’s 3V advertising as an example for how effective video content works—and it’s totally applicable for any other form of content creation your company puts online. Content with an authentic brand voice that’s both entertaining and in-context for your audience (whether that’s relating to a trend or relating your content to your service/product) “advertises” more effectively than traditional, interruptive approaches.

8) Images are still vital to online businesses.


Along with video, images are gaining popularity as shared content, and their numbers keep growing. While a lot of these images are dedicated to Facebook, all social media platforms have experienced growth in the number of photos shared daily. This is important for your online marketing strategy because it shows how easily photo content can be spread across a wide audience, and how well-received it is by viewers.

9) Millenials engage in visual content.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_9.59.12_AM.png

 The report really can’t stress enough—and neither, now, can we—the hold that visual based media has over the Internet. This graph shows that social media platforms that rely most heavily on photo and video media seriously out-traffic and, in terms of time spent per visitor, outperform other sites. What does this mean for small online businesses? It shows 1) what social media platforms are the most successful in keeping their audience engaged, and 2) that visual content is what’s managing to be so engaging. All of which tells you what your company should aim for in creative content, and where you could be successful in sharing that content.

 10) Visual platforms like Pinterest boast higher eCommerce conversions.


 And not only are images doing well with keeping Internet users online and with sharing content, but image based social media like Pintrest has shown that users take to these platforms for online shopping as well. If your business lends itself to visual media, consider spreading your content through these sort of social media accounts—they’re proving to be really useful as platforms for content-based advertising.

11) Millenials are growing into more buying power.mary_meeker_11.png

 Millennials are aging, which seems like a pretty obvious statement. But as they age, they’re gaining a lot of spending power. That combined with their status as the largest generation in America makes them a either a huge part of your target audience or a huge part of your future target audience. Which is important to keep in mind because each generation has different preferences when it comes to positively responding to advertising.  

12) Ad content preferences vary by generation.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_10.07.19_AM.png

 The report even breaks down those preferences per generation, giving you a good indication of what Millennials respond positively to. Their core values are different than their predecessors, they  spend more time on social media, and original content and branding from businesses is more important to them. Being able to integrate these values while still appealing to Gen X can help you attract those new customers and make your advertising strategy more effective.

13) An omnichannel approach optimizes brand presence.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_10.08.21_AM.png

 Speaking of brands, eCommerce is experiencing a huge change because of brand popularity and effectiveness. Now single-product companies are developing brand names for themselves, brands based online are opening physical locations, and physical retailers are recognizing the impact of branding and taking to the web. It’s all becoming a large cycle that results in companies with strong brands and both online and physical stores as they grow.

 14) Messaging platforms boost customer engagement.Screen_Shot_2016-06-27_at_10.09.12_AM.png

Companies are also recognizing that the popularity of online and app-based messaging can be used for business benefit. More and more companies are using these services for fast and personable customer service and immediate customer feedback. Your customers already have accounts, and so do some of your competitors. If you’re looking to facilitate more conversations with your customers, creating a company account with these messaging platforms could be a good strategic step.

15) Apps provide new opportunities for advertising and sales.mary_meeker_15.png

 Apps are popular—well, duh. But this graph shows just how popular. A lot of your target audience spends a good portion of their time on their phone. We’ve seen that if your website isn’t mobile compatible, you’re missing out on a large chunk of advertising and sales potential. Apps are another area where businesses could use technology’s popularity to boost their brand, advertising, and sales. Could an app be in your company’s future?

Internet trends are difficult to track, but being proactive and managing to ride their waves can help optimize your business, increase sales, and make your advertising more effective.  Reports like Mary Meeker’s provide valuable information that affect your advertising strategies and your company’s presence online—they’re statistics to take to heart. Check out the rest of the Mary Meeker report for some compelling information on what’s happening in the technological world—I’m especially excited about self-driving cars myself—consider implementing the implications from our breakdown in your own company, and stay-tuned for next year’s exciting developments.


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