In total, more than half of the world (51%) or 3.8 billion people were internet users last year, up from 49% in 2017. Overall, internet growth slowed to about 6% in 2018. In response, sales of smartphones—a a primary internet access point—are declining since most of the world is already online. These are just a few of the major headlines from Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report 2019.
The report identifies market growth and concerns across the different business sectors. Highlights and trends include:
- Americans are a mobile-first society. In fact, U.S. consumers spend more time their mobile devices than they do watching TV. YouTube and Instagram are gaining the most online platform time (up 27% and 19% respectively in Q4 2018), and digital video now comprises 28% of the average daily viewing time.
- People increasingly communicate visually using images captured on their cellphones. More than 50 percent of Twitter impressions now include images, video, or other media.
- Marketing spend is necessary to attract new customers. However, Meeker believes these acquisition costs are unsustainable and, in some cases, surpass the long-term revenue of the customers. She suggests using cheaper ways to acquire customers like free trials and unpaid tiers. Both enable more usage, engagement and social sharing compared to premium models which drive monetization and product innovation.
- Concern over problematic digital content continues to climb as 42% of U.S. teens report some type of bullying online. YouTube also remains central for recruitment of radicalized terrorists and social media still serves as a playing field for political polarization.
- Google and Facebook continue to register steady ad revenue growth. Overall, Internet ad spend is up 22% in 2018, slightly higher than the 21% growth in 2017.
- On-demand products and services increased from about 40 million in 2017 to 56 million in 2018. Online marketplaces are the most popular, followed by transportation, housing, food delivery and health/beauty.
Digital data and insights can improve user experience
Meeker believes that the use of digital data and insights can improve the user experience. She outlines the following plan:
- Understand customer wants and improve business processes
- Increase customer input/improve products
- Manage direct customer/subscriber relationships
- Improve consumer decision-making
- Organize internal and external communication
- Communicate with customers via multiple channels
- Organize customer data across all systems
- Improve analytics/recommendations/personalization
- Respond to customer events at scale
- Discover business insights and optimize fulfillment
- Manage data growth and eliminate inefficiencies
Meeker sources industry research throughout the report to support her findings and offer forecasts in the tech and venture capital world. She continues to examine the marketplace as an analyst would, identifying the new trends, companies, and business models for investment and her report is an annual industry-insider must-read.