The Single Most Important Slide in Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report

martin horn Blog, Strategy Leave a Comment

Have you read Mary Meeker’s most recent Internet Trends report?

You really should. As usual, it presents a goldmine of research insight that will inevitably transform how marketers allocate their resources. It’s also 196 slides long, so you’re forgiven for not wanting to slog through it. While there’s valuable insight peppered throughout, I think there’s one slide that stands out. Without further ado:

People are Spending Half of Their Screen Time on Mobile, But Advertisers are Only Spending a Quarter of Their Online Budget on Mobile.


Advertisers are only spending 8% of their budget on mobile.

Whoa. What?

This graphic compares average user time spent with each medium and the proportion of advertising budget allocated to that medium. It tells us that:

  • Advertisers spend a lot of money on print advertising for very little media consumption time
  • TV still dominates consumption time and ad spend
  • Advertisers, on average, only use 8% of their ad spend on mobile, when it makes up a quarter of total media consumption time
What Does This Mean?

In advertising, time is real estate.

Sure. Every channel has its own ins and outs, its own peculiarities in terms of lead generation and conversion but, broadly speaking, the amount of time a customer spends on a channel gives us a good idea of the value of that channel.

And just like in real estate, you’re looking to invest in undervalued properties. If advertisers are underspending in this area, that means less competition for clicks and ad space, and consequently lower prices. We’ve seen this with our mobile AdWords and Facebook advertising campaigns, where mobile ads will outperform desktop ads in terms of clickthrough rate and cost-per-click.

A small spend will have exponentially greater visibility in an environment where advertising space is under-utilized. For small businesses, investing in mobile advertising is a no-brainer. If you’ve got a mobile-optimized site, a small investment can yield far higher returns than on more competitive channels.

What Do People Look At On Mobile?

Good question.

Content relating to…

  • Gaming
  • Health
  • Retail
  • Social Media
  • Streaming Radio
  • Weather

…are accessed from mobile devices the majority of the time. There are various intuitive reasons why these types of content resonate more on mobile: the explosion of casual gaming, the interstitial way in which we consume social media, the urgency with which we typically want health information. The point is, if your business is in any sector related to any of the above, mobile is no longer an opportunity space, it’s a necessity. That’s where the majority of your eyeballs are.


Screen Time by content type

Millenial Media/comScore


Even if you’re not in a sector related to the above, with 44% (and counting) of all digital content consumption happening on mobile, you can’t afford not to have a strong mobile site and allocate a respectable portion of your ad budget towards it. Even if you’re a B2B SaaS with a 7-month sales cycle, you can’t afford to miss a prospect searching for one of your core services with colleagues over lunch.

One User – Many Devices

It’s important to understand that mobile is just one piece of the puzzle. Increasingly, people are consuming content across various devices, at different times of day, privileging different activities. Understanding this can help you tweak your overall user-experience and content to give users the right offer, the right conversion, on the right device at the right time. Here are the staggering stats on cross-platform-browsing:


Cross device browsing

Cross-Device Behavior–Millenial Media/comScore


67% of Internet users aged 18-24 browse across devices. That number increases to 79% among the 25-49 bracket but proportionally they’re still spending more time on desktop devices.
Time of day matters as well. As you can see below, mobile usage tends to border the workday. If you’re running a multi-device ad campaign, you can easily take advantage of this by heavying-up your media buy during the periods when mobile usage is highest.


Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 3.05.27 PM



Picking Your Battles: What Conversions Should You Be Pushing?

Let’s recap what we know:

  • There’s an abundance of high-value real-estate (time spent) on mobile
  • The content people browse the most on mobile relates to games, weather, social media, health, retail and streaming radio
  • People consume content across devices, throughout the day
  • Mobile use overshadows other devices primarily in the hours bordering the workday

So how do you know what conversions to be pushing on mobile?

The short answer is, you don’t. The general rule is, if your sales cycle is short and uncomplicated, push as close to a transaction as possible. If your sales cycles is long and complicated (like if you’re a B2B professional services firm), it probably makes more sense to focus on delivering content related to your products or services, with a view to retargeting later on desktop.

Also think about the real world context in which users are visiting your mobile site. Is there some valuable contextual information you can provide? For example, if you’ve got a storefront, it’s still all about location, location, location. Can you drive users from device to walk-in?


Continuous Improvement

Ultimately though, it all depends on what you’re selling and who you’re selling to. The nice thing about mobile and digital advertising in general is the ability to A/B/C test, analyze & optimize for conversions and figure out which channels, and more importantly which combinations of channel interactions, are driving the most conversions, and how to get them working even better in the future. Mobile is getting to users in a different real-world context than desktop does, but they are largely the same users. You need to be able to anticipate their mobile, social and desktop entry and exit points and build conversions around that behaviour.


Using tools like Google Analytics’ multi-channel funnels can help you get a wider picture of what your customers are doing from device to device, and looking at qualitative metrics like time-on-site or conversions can help you tweak your copy, creative and offers, so mobile fits into your larger marketing activities.


Multi-Channel Funnels



Bottom line:

There’s a gaping hole in the mobile advertising market right now. That means, if there ever was a time to experiment, test, analyze and learn, it is now, when the eyeballs are there and the cost-per-click is low.



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