Mary Meeker and Kleiner Perkins’ annual internet trend report is on us, a 294-slide behemoth (though a bit slimmer than last year’s) covering everything technology from smartphone market saturation to broad-strokes trends of the advertising duopoly to changes in the healthcare market.
This year’s report hits one central theme: growth is tough when you’re already the biggest fish in the pond.
Internet Use On The Move
“When markets reach mainstream, new growth gets harder to find—evinced by zero percent new smartphone unit shipment growth in 2017,” Mary Meeker’s report reads.
Internet user growth has also diminished significantly, dropping from 12 percent in 2016 to seven percent in 2017. According to Meeker, this slowdown is unlikely to stop as internet usage (currently 49 percent of the world’s population) grows closer to complete saturation.
Marketers needn’t fear any drop in internet usage, however. Average time spent online in the US increased by four percent year over year, from 5.6 hours per day per user to 5.9 hours. This growth was driven by increases in both time spent on mobile devices and “other connected devices,” such as smart speakers and other IoT products.
Video habits continue to transition to mobile as well, reaching just under 30 minutes watched daily per user, globally. In 2016, that figure was just 20 minutes.
Even with mobile devices becoming increasingly complex, with snazzier looks and more functionality, the average price of smartphones continues to trend downward, assisting in adoption in developing markets.
Digital Commerce Goes Global
By contrast, e-commerce growth is accelerating, growing 16 percent in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2016. Amazon is taking an even larger of the pie, accounting for 28 percent of digital sales, with 49 percent of US consumers starting with Amazon when searching with products. By comparison, just 36 percent responded starting with any search engine.
China continues to drive e-commerce trends especially among mobile payment adoption, reaching 500 million active users in 2017. Alibaba continues to grow neck and neck with Amazon, matching the e-commerce giant’s revenue growth rate of 31 percent despite a much more geographically concentrated market.
According to Mary Meeker’s report, from smart home devices to QR codes to mobile payment services, digital transactions now account for 60 percent of everyday consumer purchases.
Much like other types of internet usage, mobile continues to take up more of the pie for e-commerce as well. Shopping app sessions increased by an average of 54 percent last year, compared to an average increase in app session length of just 6 percent.
Internet Advertising Needs To Catch Up
Despite a mismatch between the amount of time spent on mobile with the amount advertisers spend to reach mobile users, Mary Meeker’s report found that year-over-year internet advertising growth has plateaued at 20 percent, failing to account to the quickening shift to smartphones.
According to Meeker, tech companies are responding to this gap with increased accountability, both to brands and consumers, heavily increasing investment in both AI content policing and ad placement platforms.
The largest tech companies are converging in their efforts to expand their business, with Amazon moving into the search advertising field while Google expands its commerce platform, as evidenced by Google Home Ordering.