Philip Ellis
Mary Meeker’s 2017 Trends: The Breakdown

When Mary Meeker speaks, people listen. Her annual Internet Trends Report is akin to a State of the Union address, and the insights contained therein become something of a marketer’s gospel.

You can peruse the 355 slide report at the bottom of this page, below our key takeaways.

Global Internet Trends:

The last year has shown solid internet user growth, up 4%, but smartphone growth is slowing, with shipments up just 3% vs 10% the year before. Mobile internet use is now at up to 3 hours per day in the US, compared to less than 60 minutes five years ago. In India, the number of internet users grew by 28% in 2016, and with the price of mobile bandwidth falling, mobile internet usage also on the rise.

Online Advertising:

Meeker describes the state of online advertising and commerce as “increasingly measurable and actionable,” with ad growth driven by mobile. She warns, though, that when people don’t like what they see, they don’t always want data to be collected.

Global internet ad spend will surpass TV within the next six months. Google and Facebook have an 85% share of internet advertising growth – and rising. Ad blocker growth continues, especially in developing markets, and users are increasingly opting out of stuff they don’t want.

Advertising inefficiency is being “increasingly exposed by data.” You need the right ad at the right time and place. Platforms who want to succeed need to rapidly improve their back end data and front end measurement tools, with targeted delivery of contextual ads that drive direct purchases.

When it comes to data and scale, companies like Netflix and Spotify are leaders; in just 10 years, Netflix has gone from owning none of the US home entertainment market to 30%.

Brands On Social:

82% of consumers stopped doing business with a brand after a bad experience. It falls to social teams to improve customer service and accountability, with 60% of respondents saying they’d like better access to online support.

Both emerging and big brands can find ways to make “collaborative ad creation” work for them, combining social media with user generated content. UGC can yield 6.9 times more engagement than branded content on Facebook. Brands like Qatar Airways, Red Bull, BMW and Netflix are sourcing and leveraging content from their fans on Instagram.

Alternatives To Typing:  

The visual web is becoming more of a player as camera technology and AI become more advanced. Meeker quotes Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann: “A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.” Taking pictures can replace typing, with algorithms inferring user context from images and providing contextual relevance to advertisers.

Voice is also partially replacing typing. 20% of mobile queries in 2016 were made via voice command, and the growing ubiquity of in-home voice assistants will only contribute to this.

Don’t Underestimate Gaming:  

E-sports currently boast around 161 million monthly viewers, up 40% from last year (and still accelerating), making it an ever-more attractive sphere for brands. China is the number one market in the world for global interactive game revenue, thanks to mobile platforms like Tencent and NetEase.

But gaming might also help to shape future business models, as players turn founder. Tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Reid Hoffman have all stated that they were influenced in some way by their interest in gaming when they were young. “If you want to see what business leadership may look like in three to five years, look at what’s happening in online games,” says Byron Reeves, Professor of Communication at Stanford University.

Chinese Innovation: 

In China, tech companies lead public market wealth creation. There are around 700 million mobile internet users in China, up 12% year on year, but mobile internet usage is outpacing user growth.

As indicated by the strength of e-sports in China, live-streaming is a robust growing space, with high consumer engagement and a willingness to pay for live content.

China is also the current world leader in on-demand car and bike transport, with a 67% global share, thanks largely to mobile app innovation which helped to increase adoption.


Adoption of wearable devices and collection of personal health and wellness data are up, as is the proliferation of health apps which empower data in consumer hands. A quarter of Americans now own some form of personal tracker, and 60% of consumers are willing to share their personal health data with trusted tech brands like Google and Microsoft.

New data streams are enhancing and perhaps even accelerating clinical trials, with global medical knowledge doubling every 3.5 years.

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