Mary Meeker is a big deal. She’s a partner with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), and she’s a great mind in the tech industry. One of Meeker’s claims to fame is her annual Internet Trends Report, which is always highly anticipated by tech insiders, marketers and executives.
There are 355 slides in Meeker’s slide deck this year. By all means, take a look if you have time. If you don’t, there’s no need to worry — we’ve identified 10 of the biggest takeaways you should know about.
Lesson 1: The lines between ads, content, products, and transactions are blurring
According to Meeker, social media ads aren’t just ads anymore. They can also serve as what she calls “targeted storefronts.”
Consider a Facebook ad with an image carousel, for example. A user can browse through the images, just like they’re looking through a catalog or an online store. On Snapchat, a user can swipe up on an ad, then complete an entire transaction directly on the platform.
Here’s the big idea: E-commerce is being seamlessly integrated into users’ social media experiences. That’s a great development. When brands can effectively move audiences from discovery to purchase, they’ll create more customers and increase sales.
Lesson 2: Smartphone usage is still growing
Smartphone adoption may be slowing, but consumers still love the micro-screen. They’re now spending 3.1 hours a day on their mobile devices, up from 1.6 hours five years ago.
For years, we’ve been hearing about the importance of mobile, and the data supports this. Mobile is only going to grow more indispensable as time goes by. Perhaps equally as important, however, is the fact that desktop usage hasn’t dropped significantly over the years. Consumers are spending 2.2 hours a day on the platform. That’s the same level of usage for the past two years, and even the same usage as in 2008.
The lesson? Mobile is ascendant, and you should build top-notch experiences on it. But don’t forget about desktop.
Lesson 3: Internet advertising will surpass TV advertising this year
For the first time ever, global internet ad spend will surpass global television ad spend. That’s an incredible development, as internet advertising hasn’t even gotten close in most of the past 20 years. Only in recent years has it catapulted into contention.
Internet access is the fastest-growing consumer segment in the United States — and as more consumers access the web, advertisers will follow them online. The internet offers powerful audience targeting, easy ad metrics, and flexible ad creation. It’ll only become more lucrative in the coming years, especially as giants like Google and Facebook continually reach more consumers.
According to eMarketer, by 2020 we can expect a huge gulf between TV and digital ad spending. TV is expected to clock in at $78 billion, and digital will dominate with a massive $113 billion. Clearly, the internet is the future of advertising.
Lesson 4: Google and Facebook are dominant in internet advertising
Google and Facebook are absolute juggernauts. They’re also growing like crazy: The two companies alone account for 85% of the growth in internet advertising.
Nobody does search better than Google — it’s excellent for reaching consumers when they’re ready to buy. Facebook has an uncanny ability to keep users browsing, and it offers ultra-specific targeting options. Learn how to leverage both of them, or at least explore how your brand could benefit from either platform.
Lesson 5: How social media marketers measure success
Right now, there are three big ways marketers measure the success of their social media campaigns:
- Engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares, etc.): 56%
- Conversion and revenue metrics (web traffic, conversions, etc.): 21%
- Amplification and brand awareness metrics (web traffic, etc.): 15%
It’s telling that most marketers define success based on engagement metrics. As Simply Measured points out, that speaks volumes about the difficulty of measuring ROI. In lieu of reliable ways to obtain ROI data, marketers often fall back on their old habits — namely, using metrics such as likes and comments to demonstrate value.
Lesson 6: Marketers’ biggest challenges in social media
- 61% — measuring ROI.
- 38% — securing the necessary budget and resources.
- 34% — tying social campaigns to business goals.
It’s understandable why measuring ROI is so important. When you’re a marketer persuading management to invest in social media, it’s helpful to have hard data. If you can’t show how marketing leads to profit, it can be difficult to get the budget to grow your operation.
As Graham Gullans writes for Ad Age, brands can more effectively measure ROI by identifying key performance indicators (KPIs), using tools like Google Analytics, and assigning monetary values to KPIs. Furthermore, because the difficulty of ROI measurement stems largely from a lack of good tools, keep an eye out for technological advancements that make the job easier.
Lesson 7: Contextual ads on Facebook lead to direct purchases
According to a study commissioned by CPC Strategy, 26% of users that click on Facebook ads eventually make a purchase.
The implication is clear: Facebook ads work as long as you use them correctly. According to CPC Strategy CEO Rick Backus, brands should see Facebook as a “full-funnel sales opportunity.” Understand why your prospects click on your ads in the first place. Retarget them with additional advertising. Answer their questions and educate them. Ultimately, Facebook’s powerful platform lets you find your perfect audience — and convert them into customers with the right strategy.
Lesson 8: Skippable and incentive-based ads get high marks
Pre-roll is insanely unpopular — 80% of consumers have a negative opinion of it. Other despised video-ad formats include in-banner autoplay (79% of consumers hate it) and mobile app popups (a no-go for 81% of consumers). I’m sure that’s not a shocker.
What does seem to be working? Well, for starters, a majority of consumers have a positive impression of skippable pre-roll and social click-to-play (51% and 52%, respectively). And an impressive 68% of consumers have a positive view of mobile app rewards.
These forms of advertising have something in common: They try to work with the consumer instead of heavily disrupting the user experience. Pre-roll is nothing to celebrate, but it’s bearable if you can skip it after five seconds. And at the very least, social click-to-play and mobile app rewards offer a dose of fun to the otherwise dreary prospect of seeing an ad.
Users have had it with annoying advertising. They’ll mentally tune out intrusive ads, and they’re increasingly using adblock technology. If brands want to reach prospects effectively, they need to ask — not force — audiences to listen.
Lesson 9: Computer vision and image recognition will be huge
Snap Inc. is making a “big business” out of serving relevant ads based on user-uploaded images, Meeker argued. She also said KPCB agrees with a prediction made by Pinterest founder and CEO Ben Silbermann: “A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.”
E-commerce search engines are effective when you know exactly what you’re looking for. But when you don’t, the experience could be like finding a needle in a haystack. The solution is image search, like we’ve seen with Amazon’s Image Recognition feature. As computer-vision technology becomes more accessible, this feature will be standard across e-commerce stores.
Crucially, image searches will increase product discovery — that’s certainly the hope of companies like Pinterest. Brands would benefit from the technology, as they’d be able to consistently show new and interesting products to their customers.
Lesson 10: User-generated content smokes brand-generated content on Facebook
Done right, user-generated content (UGC) “can generate 6.9x higher engagement than brand-generated content on Facebook.” There’s simply an authenticity to UGC that can be difficult for brands to replicate. And especially among younger consumers, there’s power in social proof: 86% of millennials think UGC reflects the quality of a brand.
For a top-notch UGC strategy, consider partnering with micro-influencers. With their help, you can reach highly engaged audiences while spending less on advertising.
Curalate helps more than 800 of the world’s leading brands sell online more effectively. How? By creating compelling commerce experiences that adapt to how consumers discover products. On average, our clients achieve:
- 79% increases in time-on-site.
- 16% jumps in average order value.
- 31% increases in conversion rate.