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At 213 slides, venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s 2016 edition of her annual Internet Trends report is the biggest one yet.

Delivered at the annual Code Conference, Meeker highlighted some key trends this year, including the growth of online advertising, the “re-imagining” of transportation and the changing consumer demographic.


If you work in marketing, customer experience or product development, here are the most important takeaways for you from Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 presentation.

  1. Authenticity is key to more effective video ads.

Despite the growth of video ads, most of them are not resonating with customers, as these stats demonstrate:

But it’s not all doom and gloom for advertisers that want to use videos. Ads that are authentic, entertaining and emotional are most effective, according to a study conducted by the video company Unruly.

Authentic video ads win - Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report

  1. Millennials are more global, optimistic and tolerant.

It’s no secret that millennials are different from older generations. Meeker shares a useful slide summarizing the general characteristics of Gen Y compared to baby boomers, Gen X and the “silent” generation. (In later slides, Meeker also reminds people that the spending power of this generation will only rise significantly in the next 10 to 20 years.)  

Meeker’s findings are a reminder that companies must engage with millennials to understand their changing lifestyle.

Millennials versus baby boomers versus the "silent generation" - Mary Meeker 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. The direct-to-consumer retail model is growing fast.

According to Meeker, more consumers are shopping directly from their favorite brands instead of going through retailers. But there’s also a concurrent trend where retailers are developing their “own vertically-integrated products.” As retailers become brands, and brands become retailers, expect more direct-to-consumer models to emerge in the years ahead.

Emerging direct-to-consumer distribution channels - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. Retailers are focusing on both their online and offline presences.

For many retailers, it’s no longer a question of online versus offline: the answer is both. According to Meeker, brick-and-mortar companies are beefing up their online presence, while brands that started as e-commerce brands are becoming “data-optimized physical retailers.”

Meeker’s slide sums it up well: “Omnichannel is key.”

Physical retailers become digital retailers - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. Upstarts are growing faster than ever before.

A combination of viral marketing, on-demand purchasing and access to capital is helping many retailers drive sales. According to Meeker, it’s now easier than ever for internet retailers to achieve $100 million in annual sales within five years of launch—something that took a lot longer in previous decades.

Upstarts are growing faster than ever before. - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. Don’t assume Gen Z are the same as millennials.

As the first true digital natives, Gen Z are exhibiting characteristics that diverge from millennials, the cohort immediately before them. Companies need to engage with Gen Z on an ongoing basis to keep up with the changing attitudes and behaviors of this emerging generation.

Don’t assume Gen Z are the same as millennials. - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. Established brands get impacted by “Internet-related dislocations.”

There’s a compelling reason why traditional media and retail companies need to step up with innovation: Internet-enabled upstarts are quickly chipping away market share and revenue from them. 

Established brands get impacted by “Internet-related dislocations." - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

Meeker says we’re still in the early days of “Internet-related dislocations,” but the current generation of Internet leaders are already growing faster than ever before.

Current generation of internet leaders are growing faster than previous generation - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. Data analytics is becoming a part of the business intelligence ecosystem.

Companies are collecting more data than ever before and, as a result, data is now a new growth platform. More analytics platforms are making it easy for non-technical people to have direct access to data, according to Meeker.

As data becomes easier to access within the enterprise, companies need to be more proficient is sifting the signal from the noise—in finding real customer intelligence amid all the data available.

Data analytics as a platform - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

  1. Customers are concerned about data privacy.

As it becomes easier for companies to collect data, consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned about their privacy.

  • 45 percent of customers are more worried about online privacy than a year ago (TWEET THIS STAT)
  • 74 percent of customers have limited their online activity in the last year due to privacy concerns (TWEET THIS STAT)
  • 78 percent of consumers are concerned about companies selling their data (TWEET THIS STAT)

These stunning stats from Meeker reiterates that most customers are uncomfortable in how companies collect and use their data. Marketers need to find the right balance between their need for insight and the growing demand for more privacy. But more importantly, companies need to be more transparent—they need to ask for consent for their customer data and feedback as part of their customer intelligence program.  

Consumer privacy concerns - Mary Meeker's 2016 Internet Trends Report

Final thought on Internet Trends 2016

Meeker’s Internet Trends 2016 presentation is particularly relevant to big brands as it highlights the impressive growth of startups and the evolving lifestyle of millennials and Gen Z.

The big lesson: to remain relevant in this time of significant change, business and marketing leaders need to be relentless in their pursuit for innovation. In doing so, companies must focus on understanding their customers—something they can only gain through ongoing and authentic engagement.

Check out Mary Meeker’s full Internet Trends 2016 report below.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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