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Insights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016

Venture captrenditalist Mary Meeker’s annual presentation on the State of the Internet always gets my attention (and many other’s as well) as it outlines where digital trends and with it marketing are headed to in the next few years.

At 213 pages it is a lot to digest and here are my main takeaways;

  • Internet growth is slowing down. The adoption rate was flay YoY at 9%. At the moment it is reaching about 42% of the world’s population.
  • The smartphone is hitting the saturation point. There are 7.4 billion people in the world and about 2.5 billion smartphones. And it seems as though the majority of those who can or will own a smartphone already do. But marketers shouldn’t worry, mobile will only become more important as people spend more time on their devices.
  • Online advertising is up 20% and mobile is a big driver of growth. Google and Facebook are also big drivers commanding 76% of all spend. Meeker sees a $22 billion opportunity in mobile advertising based on data showing consumers spend 25 percent of their media time on mobile while advertisers spend only 12 percent of their budgets here. But if marketers want to be effective they need to fit in with consumer behaviours. Think fitting the content with the platform specific consumer behaviours such as vertical, short length, full screen.
  • Ad blocking is on the rise. Obviously the public is making a statement here – time for marketers to find some acceptance and start to create content that is truly relevant to our audiences.
  • Messaging apps are huge and over time could take over the home screen on mobile devices. After all, 80% of users time is spent on 3 apps: Facebook, WhatsApp and Chrome. We will see a shift from messaging being just for us to be social to include more business related interactions. We must not forget that in Asia messaging apps like WeChat are already more or less used as home screens with people going there to not only chat but also shop, order taxis, transfer money or play games. Plus the next generations prefer to chat than actually physically talk.
  • Visual is exploding and images are fuelling sales. Meeker says that in 5 years at least 50% of searches will be made through images or speech. We are using our smartphones more to tell and share stories – no wonder Snapchat has made such a huge leap recently. For marketers this means if we can help our target audience visualize how a product fits into their lives, we can help drive sales.
  • Video is also obviously exploding with Snapchat and Facebook Live which increases the pressure to produce relevant, authentic and real-time content. Funnily enough, video ads are not doing so well. Ad blocking plays a major part here and many people mute the sound. Once again it is all about relevant targeting and delivering the relevant content at the right time and place.
  • Privacy and personal data. Obviously marketers love digital data as it gives us the opportunity for effective advertising ROIs. But according to Meeker, 45% of people are more worried about digital security than last year. What does this mean? Do not risk the trust you have earned with your audiences and listen to their concerns.
  • And finally after the rise of text, images….now the rise of the voice interfaces. Voice is probably the best “real time” format we have. We can speak faster than typing and it is definitely much more personal. While we may not be there completely from a technological point of view yet this is open up new avenues for sales and marketing.
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ROI, Facebook and Snapchat

According to a new survey taken in March, almost all (95.8%) of social media marketers worldwide believe that Facebook produces the best ROI out of the major social platforms. With Facebook continually adding new revenue streams, it is not a suprise marketers are using Facebook for their marketing efforts.

ROI

Snapchat, however, is at the bottom – which sort of fits into the results from L2 Think Tank. They found that brands are more hesitant when it comes to using Snapchat.
Instagram on the other hand seems to have almost every industry fully using the platform.  Maybe they have not discovered yet that Snapchat allows you to create unique content in-app that may increase brand following?  Interestingly enough though, posting frequency is higher on Snapchat than Instagram on a weekly basis.
By the way: I am a sucker for both.

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Millenial Activation

Yesterday I had the pleasure to speak at the ISPO Communication Day in Munich — part of ISPO, the world’s largest sports industry trade show. ispoMy topic was on which social media channel fits your story. And while you cannot be on every single social platform out there, you should at try to do at least 2 or 3 well. But more importantly today with so much happening in the social media sphere, the need to engage with millenials is becoming more and more apparent. They are becoming a major influencing factor for brands, trends, and markets. In the US alone they have close to $200 billion purchasing power each year. With social media being the environment they thrive in, time for brands to start building relationships with them there.

 

Authenticity is key

Ok, we all know that authenticity is key to humanizing your brand. But for millenials it is especially so. Last year, Forbes reported that 43% of millennials rank authenticity over content. The same report found that 62% of millennials are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand interacts with them on social media. Because of how ingrained social platforms have become in our behaviour, audiences are more informed, aware and empowered than ever before. Social media has made us more cynical and more critical of what brands are doing. We can’t as easily be won over by a glossy ad – particularly digital natives who are increasingly more likely to prefer YouTube content over TV. So brands need to be transparent and honest.

You need to understand “dark social”

Want to market to millenials? Then you need to get acquainted with the term dark social. More and more consumers are conducting their conversations in private and share links away from major social platforms. They are taking to the likes of Snapchat, WhatsApp or other messaging apps. These are becoming new, opportunistic venues where brands could potentially start to engage in conversations that aren’t interruptive. Did you know that there are nearly 4 billion global active users of messaging apps, from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to WeChat and Kik? In fact, the top five apps in the world in terms of frequency of use are all messaging apps.

Move into unchartered waters

Most of us marketeers know that millenials don’t care for traditional advertising. They’re totally unaffected by it. That’s why social media marketing is such a big deal. The product is almost irrelevant. It’s the brand you have to sell, and social media is one of the best ways to do that. And while Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been (and still are) highly successful when it comes to brand awareness, none of them offer the same level of value and authenticity that Snapchat does. Snapchat has over 200 million users. With over 7 billion video views per day. Of course you cannot deliver large-scale conversations on Snapchat but maybe we need to follow our audience into unchartered marketing waters even if it would be nicer to stick to platforms we are used to and feel safe on. Maybe we do not know exactly the best way to use these one-on-one platforms yet but there are many brands that are already exploring. Content like product launches, behind-the-scenes. all unfiltered and happening in the now. Making the brand totally transparent and authentic with the potential of creating deeper, more personal relationships. And even if right now we may not have the mechanics to easily track these conversations, I am sure they will be coming sometime during 2016.

Influencers have the power

“People buy from people, not brands” – according to findings 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other users even if they may not know them. That is why it is important to understand how your brand is perceived out there. So think influencer marketing. Influencers have thepower when it comes to marketing services and products. Consumers today trust recommendations from family, friends, and social media influencers more than any type of paid marketing. And when someone is happy with your brand, they will share this with their social networks. The effect is unparalleled to any other marketing tool we have.

And don’t forget the IoT

Today’s world is becoming more and more connected. And millenials are expecting brands to be connected and able to offer them seamless person-to-digital experiences and interactions. Brands will need to move away from being interruptive and seeing themselves as a broadcaster to actually offering personalized solutions. Think of something alongside a reminder being sent to order an Uber to pick up your date for that restaurant reservation you have Friday night. Or which SPF cream to use for today’s sunshiny weather.