This week at the Code Conference, Mary Meeker released her annual Internet Trends Report. It explores the impact of the ever-evolving digital landscape on diverse industries from advertising and healthcare to gaming. Since the public relations industry is also subject to these changes, there are a few things PR professionals can learn from the 355-slide report. The TL;DR version is this:1. Mobile continues to flourish, but growth is slowing. The claim “mobile is on the rise” is no stranger to Meeker’s recent reports. There are currently 3.4 billion global Internet users — an increase from just over 3 billion last year. Consumers spend 5.6 hours per day on the Internet, and they are on their mobile phones for 3.1 of those hours. These growth numbers aren’t surprising, but what is surprising is the rate of that growth. This year, the rate of year-over-year growth in the number of Internet users was the same as last year: 10 percent. Additionally, there’s slowing growth in the number of global smartphone shipments and in the global smartphone-installed base.
The PR takeaway: Despite the slowdown, brands still need to be in the stream. This is why publishers continue to do things like push stories through social media, and develop mobile apps and push notifications. Today, we have to take the news (and content) to our audiences, rather than expecting them to come to us.
2. Consumers opt out of conversations they don’t want. Global internet ad spending grew 22 percent over the past year. Consumers are bombarded with surround-sound advertising through every medium you can imagine: social, digital, TV, print and more. As a result, consumers tune out what they don’t want to hear. Mobile ad blocking nearly tripled over the past year as consumers try to cut out the noise.
The PR takeaway: Listen more. Rather than creating a conversation from scratch and talking to an audience that simply isn’t listening, participate in conversations that consumers already care about. One way to do this is by tapping into influencer marketing. People trust influencers more. Data can also help inform which conversations are the ones that matter.
3. Data is empowering. Health apps are increasingly popular among consumers and saw a 15 percent increase in downloads over the past year. Why? In her report, Meeker reflects on the power data can have on an individual. Consumers like to track their health and fitness progress and access that data in real time. It’s encouraging and empowering to see data that enables people to meet their goals.
The PR takeaway: Data is more important than ever, especially for informing your PR strategies and crafting compelling stories. Tell your stories with new data that directly applies to the audience you’re trying to reach.
4. Consumers want to feel like they’re part of something bigger. One of the most interesting points in Meeker’s report is the growth of the esports industry. Esports has 161 million global viewers, many of which are millennials. Meeker explores how gaming has evolved over the past five decades from single-player games in arcades to games in online networks with millions of players and spectators. She references Zuckerberg’s Law of Social Sharing, or the exponential growth of online social networks. Esports has become a social media-like community for individuals in every generation because it’s important for consumers to feel like they are part of a bigger cause.
The PR takeaway: Include consumers in the story. According to the report, user-generated content can help create that sense of community and foster seven times more engagement than branded content. Meeker’s report also dives into top brands leveraging user-generated content on Instagram, something we recently covered on our blog.
5. Personalization is everything. Consumers increasingly pick and choose how they consume media. They buy TV a la carte and they favor digital subscriptions. Netflix, which gives viewers the opportunity to watch shows anytime, went from 0 to more than 30 percent of home entertainment revenue in just 10 years.
The PR takeaway: One of the best ways to cut through the noise is to deliver a personal experience for your audience. Data can help inform personalization and identify niche audiences so that you can tell the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channel. The more you get to know your audiences, the better you can cater to their preferences.