5 Takeaways for Content Marketers From Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Mary Meeker has seen it all. The famous VC, who is a partner at Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has been releasing big-time reports on the state of the Internet since 1995, when she was the lead manager for Netscape’s infamous IPO. That’s a long time ago in the tech world—in 1995 Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who now has a net worth of $1.5 billion, was gearing up to disrupt his kindergarten class.

A lot has changed since then. Internet penetration (i.e., the amount of active web users) has increased from .06 percent of the global population to an astounding 39 percent, while mobile phone subscriptions have increased from 1 percent to 73 percent. The world is connecting like never before, and, luckily for us, Meeker is here to break it down.

Her 2015 presentation touches on a diverse array of topics. Cybersecurity, diversity in the tech industry, and the rise of marketplace jobs like Uber are all given time in the spotlight, but more important for those in the content marketing industry is that Internet behavior and content consumption trends are also given ample attention.

There are 197 slides to sift through, so we went ahead and pulled the most important takeaways for content marketers. You can thank us when you’re the smartest person at your happy hour later today.

1. You need to get your mobile video strategy in place right now

Unsurprisingly, one of the running themes throughout Meeker’s presentation was the rise of mobile. In fact, as Meeker points out, time spent with digital media on mobile has increased from 12 percent of the total in 2008 to a whopping 51 percent today.

While mobile use has exploded, so too has time spent watching videos. Both of these are no accident: Superior video players and better mobile networks (e.g., 4G) has meant faster, more reliable mobile video.

So it’s not too surprising that, as the chart above shows, horizontal screen time spent watching video has stagnated while vertical screens (mobile) has grown steadily.

It’s clear that content marketers need to take this trend seriously. As smartphone adoption proliferates, particularly in the developing world, these numbers will only increase. A platform like Facebook, for example, which has optimized its video offerings and their new Instant Articles for mobile use, is a great way to reach mobile users with your video content.

2. Particularly, your vertical video strategy

Snapchat has shown itself to be prophetic in its commitment to vertical video. While many groaned and moaned for years about vertical video (Gawker commenters in particular), Snapchat realized that folks really, really dig vertical video—they dig it so much that users, on average, are 9x more likely to complete a vertical video than a horizontal one on Snapchat.

A lot of that may have to do with the fact that the platform is optimized for vertical browsing (which makes turning your phone an unwanted step), but the numbers are too compelling to shrug off.

3. Chat apps are taking over

Not to toot our own horn or anything (okay, we’re tooting it), but we called 2015 “The Year of the Chat App” way back in January. Mary Meeker brought the slides to prove it.

Chat apps are often the “gateway drug” for mobile Internet use, particularly in developing countries like India and Brazil. Phones, after all, are about communicating—and as the slide above shows, the majority of mobile use is communications-oriented (Clash of Clans being the disturbing exception).

But these apps are increasingly about much more than sending GIFs to your friends. This is especially true in Asia: Korea’s KakaoTalk, China’s WeChat, and Japan’s Line provide pretty much all the services you’d ever need. Imagine Uber, Snapchat, SMS, FaceTime, Seamless, and Amazon all in one app, and that’s pretty much what Asia’s most popular chat apps are delivering.

Obviously, U.S. chat apps, and Western chat apps in general, haven’t reached the same level of ubiquity. But the year-to-year explosive growth of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, and even Slack has demonstrated that people increasingly want these private micronetworks—particularly millennials and those in developing nations.

Our editor-in-chief, Joe Lazauskas, breaks down why that matters for content marketers in this piece, but the reasons should be pretty apparent. If you want to reach an audience in the years to come, you’re going to have to penetrate these chat apps. The path to doing so is murky, but it should become clearer once these chat apps begin to monetize like their Asian counterparts.

4. User-generated/curated content is booming

As the rise of chat apps demonstrates, people increasingly want to communicate with their peers in an intimate environment. Instead of celebrities, studios, or even media companies, people are seeking out content created by fellow amateurs.

Take Twitch, the live-streaming platform purchased by Amazon back in 2014. As the slide above demonstrates, Twitch has seen exponential year-to-year growth. Yet the platform confounds pretty much everyone over 35: Why would you want to watch strangers play video games? Couldn’t you just play them yourself?

Sure, you could, but what those questions fail to consider is the communal draw of user-generated content sites like Twitch. Streamers regularly interact with their viewers on Twitch, and the sense of community is readily apparent to anyone who has spent extended time on the platform.

This is also true on the other platforms Meeker calls attention to, such as Pinterest, SoundCloud, and Wattpad. All of these sites rely on user-generated or -curated content, and they’ve all seen ridiculous growth. Basically, if you thought traditional media had lost its influence and power before, the process is actually just beginning.

Put simply: Content creation is becoming more bottom-up instead of top-down. For brands set up to to take advantage of this trend—GoPro, for example—the windfall could be huge.

5. 12–24-year-olds are addicted to visual content

There’s tons of interesting things to unpack in this graph, but probably the most surprising result is just how important Instagram is to young people today. While Facebook is falling precipitously in importance, Instagram has shot up the charts. You better believe that Facebook is glad it acquired Instagram and WhatsApp.

If Instagram’s rise tells us anything, it’s that teens and young adults can’t get enough visual content. Meeker also calls attention to Snapchat and Pinterest’s rise, both of which rely on visual content as well (though it’s worth noting that Snapchat’s Discover, while highly visual, revolves mostly around text-based stories).

Meeker brings even more evidence that the young’uns love their visuals. As the chart below shows, millennials and teens tend to use their smartphone’s cameras like maniacal paparazzi, snapping photos and posting them on social media like nobody’s business.

Which is all to say that to win the hearts and minds of younger generations, content creators shouldn’t discount the importance of an eye-catching piece of visual content.

Speaking of visual content, here’s Mary Meeker’s whole presentation in SlideShare form. Graphs, pictures, and minimal reading await!

Image by Courtesy KPCB

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