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Internet and video trends from the expert Mary Meeker

Internet and video trends from Mary MeekerVenture capitalist Mary Meeker is regarded as one of the key authorities on technology and the Internet. She recently presented her 2015 Internet Trends Report at a conference and she covered everything from the use of drones to mobile video. She covers a lot of financial information and trends given her current and previous financial interests. But she also gathers facts that are worth noting by anyone who uses the Internet for business.

Out of her comprehensive 196 page report, I’ve picked out just five to share because they clearly show the growth and change of the Internet as well as how video is seen today.

The Internet has grown

Oh my, how the Internet has grown in the last 20 years. Back in 1995 there were just 35 million people using the Internet worldwide (I’m proud to have been one of them!). That’s just 0.6% of the world population. In 2014, there were 2.8 billion Internet users in the world. China and Asia (everything else but China) together account for 51% of the users. Europe is 19%, the USA is 10% and the rest of the world accounts for 21%. Those numbers aren’t too surprising considering the majority of the world’s population is in Asia (including China). But in total all Internet users add up to 39% of the global population. That’s a pretty steep climb from less than 1% to almost 40% in just 20 years.

Where are they now?

In one of her most interesting slides Mary Meeker has compared the top 15 Internet companies in 1995 to the top in 2015. We all know how fast the technology and the Internet has changed, and about the dot com boom and bust. But I was surprised, and perhaps you will be, that only one company made it onto both lists: Apple.

In 1995 it ranked second, just behind Netscape. Now Apple ranks number one and Google is number two. Facebook, Amazon, EBay, Netflix and other household names are also on the 2015 list. But few if any will remember the other names from 1995 such as Copart, Rentpath, or PSInet.

In fairness, Netscape has evolved into the Mozilla Organisation. They are the creators of the Firefox browser, but they are no longer the financial Internet giant they once were. Some of the other companies on the 1995 list may have been acquired and exist as legacy only too.

But the remaining companies on the 2015 list didn’t even in exist 1995! Amazing.

More and more data

Consumer Internet traffic across the globe grew 21% in 2014. It grew 24% in 2013 and 31% in 2012. So the rate of growth seems to be slowing, primarily to other factors discussed in the report. But a corresponding trend is the growth in video traffic.

From 2013-2014, consumer Internet video traffic grew 64%. The year before it grew 62% and the year before that it was 57%. So the amount of video traffic is increasing year over year, even while the growth of total Internet traffic is decreasing.

The pattern is similar for mobile traffic. Data traffic increased 69% in 2014, 81% in 2013, and 70% in 2012. There was a spike in 2013 which may have corresponded to releases of certain devices, though there is no commentary on exactly why. But for mobile video traffic the increase is clear. In 2014, video traffic increased 55%. The increase was 52% in 2013, and 50% in 2012. It’s actually surprising that the mobile video increase wasn’t bigger, but the global numbers include all countries and not every network is able to handle video yet. Or, at least not handle it well.

Mobile vs. Desktop

One way to tell what platform or device type is trending is by following the money. Internet advertising on mobile grew 34% year over year, where desktop grew only at 11%. In the report, she reports that desktop growth for advertising is “decelerating” while mobile is increasing. This is backed up by many studies that show mobile is taking a larger share of usage than desktops, and the money is following accordingly.

How do you hold it…

One of the most interesting facts about video in the report is the growth in vertical view time. Across all platforms people use their mobile screens in vertical mode 29% of the time. Five years ago it was just 5%. So more and more people are holding their mobiles the long way up.

At first I figured this statistic is because people are often working with apps, many of which only work in vertical mode. Surely though, video is best consumed in horizontal orientations? The next Mary Meeker slide puts that in question. In the app Snapchat, vertical video ads have a 9 times higher completion rate than horizontal video ads. I’ve seen the vertical ads before while playing a game in vertical mode that was ad supported. I still find them unnerving somehow, but apparently many of the estimated 200 million Snapchat users disagree.

It’s certainly worth thinking about testing the orientation of your video ads, or videos viewed on mobile devices to see if your viewers have a preference too.

If these five topics were interesting to you, there’s a lot more information from Mary Meeker in the report. You can view it on Slideshare or download the PDF from the site. As I’m fond of saying, the only thing certain about the Internet is that it will keep changing. We all just have to keep up.

Oliver Burt

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