This report is so acclaimed because it reflects an entire year’s worth of valuable data offering insights for the future of digital marketing and advertising on a global level. Most data sets serve to answer a single question, are restricted to a single country, or only include information about a single topic. Meeker’s report on the other hand, is all encompassing and, more importantly, reliable. It would take months to recap all 355 slides detailed in the report, so let’s just focus on a few of special interest to marketers and advertisers.
Internet Usage Stats
Worldwide, there are 3.4 billion Internet users. These users access the Internet on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. They watch videos, read articles, scroll through pictures, and make purchases. These users also block ads, want to be entertained, and get bored easily when not entertained.
Internet user growth, year over year, has grown steadily at a rate of 10 percent. In the United States, internet engagement has also grown at a slight rate of 4 percent. From this we can see, not only are more people joining the online community, but more of those who have already joined are more immersed with Internet content.
This report extensively highlights growth and changes in advertising (and commerce) over the past year. It is worthwhile to read the slides in this section of the presentation, but here is just a taste of the wealth of knowledge contained in the report:
Let’s begin by acknowledging ads are ever evolving. In order to maintain higher levels of engagement from users, ads today need to be more organic and data-driven than ever before. Cliché, in-your-face advertisements no longer achieve the same effect as relevant, native-style advertising. This being said, ad blocking continues as a growing phenomenon, and exponentially so on mobile devices.
Mobile is Driving Ad Growth
Ad growth is driven by mobile. Online advertising is growing at a significantly consistent rate. In 2015 online advertising grew by 20 percent and in 2016, online advertising grew by 22 percent. It is clear mobile is driving this growth because 2016 was the first year in digital history when mobile ad spend surpassed desktop ad spend. Last year, total ad spend was $73 billion, of which $37 billion was spent on mobile and $36 billion spent on desktop.
One reason for this is likely the time users spend in media apps and websites on mobile, which is 28 percent. In comparison, users spend 20 percent of their time in media on the Internet and 38 percent of their time in media on television. Where dollars spent on advertising per media form is equal to the user’s time spent on that media (i.e. Internet makes up 20 percent of ad spend), mobile ad spend is actually less in percentage compared to user’s time spent on mobile. Twenty-one percent of ad spend is on mobile, and Meeker’s report suggests there is an additional $16 billion in ad spend opportunity for mobile.
We have a pretty good idea of how much money was spent on advertising in 2016, and an equally good idea why this was so, but where are these billion-dollar advertisements coming from? Google and Facebook. Together, the search engine and the social media website giants account for 85 percent of total ad share, and this number is expected to increase. Year over year, Google’s ad revenue increased 20 percent. Today Google’s ad revenue is roughly $35 billion. Year over year, Facebook ad revenue increased by 62 percent, and totaled roughly $14 billion in 2016. All other advertisers combined grew just 9 percent last year, making it clear who has the foothold in digital advertising.
Ads as Store Fronts
“Ads are becoming store fronts,” says Meeker. The content ads sell is the “store”, and the ad itself is the “transaction”, as Meeker describes. Consider her examples of this metaphor: Facebook feeds resemble browsable storefronts. Often, a feed is a scrolling page of food, clothing, and technology for purchase, intermittently dispersed between content shared by friends and family. In other terms, a feed is similar to an outlet mall. Many ads are no longer just an image, text, or video. Instead, ads include call-to-actions, like “Learn More,” “Book Now,” and “Purchase”. Ads of this kind call for a transaction to be completed.
Other information included in the report covers trends in what drives consumer engagement, user generated content, and how content is searched for on the Internet. Several media agencies came together to conduct the research presented in this report, doing a great service to the media industry. See Mary Meeker’s 2017 annual report for yourself, and use this data to help drive your digital endeavors forward!