Earlier this month, Mary Meeker delivered her annual internet trends report at Recode’s ‘Code Conference’.
This report is always eagerly anticipated at Three Whiskey.
It’s a great moment to reflect on the world of marketing, technology and the lives we lead online. This year, we asked a few Three Whiskey team members to choose one slide or section that grabbed their attention, and elucidate a little bit on why it stood out to them.
Sean from the client services team, on the world of online gaming (slide 94)
I noticed gaming was a hot topic in this year’s report - and it’s a really fascinating one.
For a long time, video games were arguably viewed in the mainstream as "low brow" compared to film, TV and literature. The Twitch streaming data in the report shows us just how far we’ve moved away from that view in the last few years; with a particularly sharp increase in Twitch use last year. The days of underestimating gaming as a medium are over (or they should be).
There were two interesting and, I think, important take-aways from the gaming story in the report.
The sheer volume of people watching other people play computer games - facilitated by huge platforms like Twitch - shows that we should now be thinking of gaming as a proper mass market sport.
The second slide I’ve picked out shows the positive impact that comes from shared experiences playing and watching modern games.
Further, the report highlights the positive impact that comes from shared experiences playing and watching modern games. Gaming connects you with hundreds of players concurrently - a highly social experience that people didn’t necessarily associate with computer games in the past. With 55% of a leading game's players citing that it’s helped them learn teamwork skills, and 40% saying it’s improving their communication skills, it’s clear that games offer a valuable toolkit to help us navigate the modern world.
So what does this mean for marketers? It means you should be embracing the eSports audience, because it’s going to explode in the next few years. The celebrities of the gaming world might not be household names just yet, but very soon they most definitely will be.
Hannah from the research, analytics and data team, on the creative potential of digital video (slide 48)
I’m really interested in the impact digital video could have on format, and the creative approaches people may take to video content.
As a huge movie fanatic, I’m always interested in tracking the shifts in how we watch content like film and TV. Unsurprisingly, this year’s internet trends report shows that people are continuing to change their television viewing habits; gradually dedicating more and more of their video consumption time to digital video, and less to traditional TV.
The report shows that the average American watches around 300 minutes of video content per day. That’s five full hours of thrilling (or mind-numbing?) entertainment per person, every day. Quick side note - who has that much time and what job do they do? Asking for a friend.
Anyway... the number of hours spent watching video content has remained stable since 2012. But what’s changed is the percentage of digital video consumed within those five hours. Digital platforms now account for 28% (or 84 minutes per day) of total time spent watching video content. And you can see that number has been on the rise for several years.
The way we watch television is changing. And I’m really interested in the impact that could have on format, and the creative approaches people may take to video content as a result.
To take one example, YouTube offers an absolute cornucopia of video content; much of which tends to be shorter, demanding less of our time and attention per video. Features like related video lists, and ‘up next’ autoplay after a video ends, are designed to cause those all too familiar spirals into hour long YouTube deep dives. When it comes to drawing people in and keeping them there, an interactive platform like YouTube has much more than just quality content to rely on.
With digital platforms offering all sorts of features to keep us watching, and to let us customize our experience, we’re already seeing creative experiments with format. For example, this year saw the debut of Netflix Originals like Special and Bonding, which both opted for episode lengths of around 15 minutes. Could this be a trial to see how episode binging and general buzz is affected when shows deliver short and sweet episodes, instead of the standard 30-40 minutes? Another great example (also from Netflix) is Black Mirror’s choose your own adventure episode, Bandersnatch - a TV show format that could only be achieved through a digital platform.
I’ve got a feeling we’re only going to see the numbers on digital video going up more sharply over coming years. And I’m excited for the creativity and playfulness that might come along with that change.
Jordan from the SEO team, on personal health data (slide 287)
Most of us aren't yet at the point of ‘taking control’ of our health data through tech company offerings.
This slide is almost a little misleading at first. It’s framed through the title as a slide about how people are increasingly willing to share personal health data with technology companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. And it looks pretty striking at first, with respondents saying they would be willing to share health data with these companies at rates of up to 60%.
Check the small print though, and there’s more to this story. In the survey from which the data for this slide is drawn, respondents were first asked whether they’d be willing to share their health data with a tech company. Just 11% of respondents said yes to that question. Then, the 11% were asked which companies they’d share this data with. And those are the numbers you’re seeing on the slide.
So I think, first and foremost, the story here is that 89% of people surveyedwouldn’t share their health data with a tech company in the first place. We know wearable health tech like the Apple Watch is a huge and growing market worldwide. But it appears most of us aren't yet at the point of ‘taking control’ of our health data through tech company offerings. Or at least, we're not willing to sacrifice our privacy to get that data.
I think this is a useful insight for healthcare providers and companies, especially when wearable tech is such a buzzy topic in healthcare circles. This large audience who doesn’t want to engage with tech companies in this way will continue to look elsewhere for health information.
Based on Yext’s New Patient Journey, a 2019 study of how patients find health information online, the most common ways include:
- Asking questions via search engines
- Watching video content
- Accessing blog articles
- Using specialist healthcare sites (brand/provider sites)
- Reading and sharing reviews
- Speaking to healthcare professionals
This represents an opportunity for healthcare companies to meet customer needs through the provision of informative, accessible content that addresses the healthcare concerns people want to be informed about.
Sean from the client services team (again!), on the value of the subscription model (slides 31 and 34)
Instead of having to invest in bringing people back for repeat purchases, you design a product with the repeat purchase built in.
Maybe I got a little too engrossed in this report, but I just couldn’t help myself and I’ve written about another section which really grabbed my attention - the data on subscription models.
These slides speak to something very interesting about the challenge of getting the right balance between customer acquisition cost and lifetime value. Lifetime value has always been a key metric for understanding and unlocking the power of your audience, but it’s becoming increasingly important in the context of digital marketing. As advertising costs increase and attribution tracking becomes more sophisticated, the true customer acquisition cost is often higher than the first time purchase value. This means it’s never been more important to understand potential lifetime value.
This can be where subscription models really come into their own. Instead of having to invest in bringing people back for repeat purchases, you design a product with the repeat purchase built in. This frees you up to focus your acquisition marketing spend on reaching genuinely new customers.
We know subscription models work really well offline – catalogue services have been around for a very long time. And online, this model has transferred well. From streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to software like Microsoft Office 365, and Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
We’ve also got well established ‘pure-play’ brands whose entire business model is based on subscriptions to physical products – think Graze boxes or Harry’s razors. Intriguingly these guys are actually taking their brands in the reverse direction, selling single packs offline in supermarkets now too. The model works both ways.
What’s really interesting though, is that this increased understanding of the relationship between customer acquisition cost, lifetime value and first time purchase value means we’re starting to see very traditional and well established industries try to enter the subscription space. Would you ever subscribe to a car brand? Lexus think you would, and they’re offering an online subscription model that lets you do just that. I’ll be watching this space with interest, as the potential - and I’m sure the limitations - of this model become clearer over time.