Internet Trends 2014 for Marketers

Intro from Jeff Sauer: Late last month venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins released an Internet trends report that has taken the online universe by storm. The report has now been viewed over a million times on Slideshare and surely has attracted even more views when you count downloads and shares. With over 150 slides and thousands of points of data being referenced, it is almost overwhelming to consume all of the information given. To help you understand how this report may impact your job as a marketer, I have asked Knowledge Land contributor Chris Bradley to explain what it all means.

Welcome Chris to the Knowledge Land team! 

Key Takeaways from the KPCB Report

In a big way, “Internet Trends 2014” is old news. We’ve heard for years the mantra of mobile, mobile, mobile. But, in a big way, that’s exactly what makes the report so compelling – mobile is no longer an option, an add-on, or an afterthought.

Mobile is not a mantra, but a must.

Storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (@KPCB) put together the report. Here are a few key take-aways for marketers:

  • Focus on mobile-centered design (smartphones and tablets)
  • Focus on beautiful, clean, user-friendly design (“RIP bad user interfaces”)
  • Consider making images and video a big part of your content strategy
  • Advertising strategy should embrace on-demand, personalized, purpose-driven, single-purpose user behavior (in a word: Internet unbundling)

In other words, we need give the consumer what they want, when they want it, how they want it. Read on as we dive a bit deeper into some of these key take-aways.

Mobile: Going From Mantra to Must

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The trend has probably never been more in-your-face than now, to the point where tacking on a mobile-friendly version of your website as an afterthought would be a mistake. Mobile is the largest growth opportunity at the moment (smartphones, tablets) – and is likely to keep moving in that direction. According to @KPCB, the market for tablets is growing faster than the historical market for PCs, and mobile is “especially compelling” when it comes to its potential for ad spend.

It also pays to be aware that, at least right now, mobile apps bring in more revenue than mobile ad spend, which is something to consider when developing a mobile strategy. Perhaps develop an app as part of content marketing efforts.

Take-away: You should be thinking design and strategy that’s mobile-first, not mobile-second.

‘Reimagining’ = Change is Constant

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Fewer people broadcasting status updates

Fewer people are broadcasting messages to their 200/500/1,000 “friends” on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. Facebook continues to be relevant. But a growing number of people are interacting among themselves in smaller groups on messaging apps like WhatsApp (which apparently facilitates roughly 50 billion messages every day).

More people sharing images and video

2014 has also seen the dominance of platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram for sharing of images and video. These platforms are “rising rapidly,” according to the report, with Instagram currently in the top spot (in terms of traffic) with more than 60 million unique visitors.

Facebook/Twitter still relevant

That said, Facebook and Twitter continue to generate the lion’s share of social media traffic referrals, which is why these older platforms are still very relevant. But the trend is less on broadcasting messages ala status updates and tweets as it is on interacting in smaller, more focused groups, and opting to post images and video rather than written content.

Internet unbundling

Apps are becoming single-purpose rather than all-in-one. Example: Facebook recently split its messaging service from its main platform. @KPCB calls this “Internet unbundling,” where purpose-driven apps are starting to take over the idle browsing/surfing of traditional social media.

Take-away: The “change is constant” mantra in digital marketing, while played out, is hard to ignore. Traditional social is still relevant, but the sharing of images/video, single-purpose apps, and general “Internet unbundling” – driven by growth in mobile – is worth your attention.

What Doesn’t Change: The Need to Create Great Content

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One of the most interesting things to me, in terms of smart ad spend going forward in 2014 and beyond, is Google TrueView. With Google TrueView, advertisers only pay for ads based on who actually chooses to watch the video rather than skip it.

This seems to be a win-win.

For marketers and content creators, it puts the emphasis on creating great content in order to get the message through. Google TrueView is a barometer on measuring the quality/success of your video advertising efforts. You only pay for it if the user chooses to watch the ad, and if the user watched the ad, that means your message got through.

For Marketers in the Education & Healthcare Industries

Education

Something near and dear to us at Knowledge Land is the fact that education seems to be undergoing something of a sea change, even in the face of our traditional educational institutions that seem to be somewhat resistant to change.

According to @KPCB, education is expensive, the results often subpar, yet people care about education very much. Digital, online education seems to cater to the different learning methods of different people.

Here’s one example: Khan Academy courses on YouTube (“free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” according to the founder) have gotten more than 430 million hits and has delivered over 300 million lessons in subjects ranging from American civics to computer science.

Another example: William Mitchell College of Law (my alma mater), recently became the first law school in the nation to offer American Bar Association approved online degrees. It’s a hybrid program that allows students to take a blend of online and on-campus classes. If law schools are starting to innovate—law schools, like other educational institutions, are typically resistant to change—it’s time for others to get on board as well.

Take-away: If you’re in the education industry, consider moving toward an online delivery service as part of your offerings.

Healthcare

The traditional doctor-patient relationship is changing – at least in the way that we communicate and prefer to receive health care treatment. We’re more open to the way in which it’s done. @KPCB says that health care is being digitized (email rather than phone, apps like Mango Health helping patients stick to their cholesterol drugs, etc.)

Take-away: If you’re working in the healthcare industry, begin to think about how to digitize some of the services you offer, perhaps explicitly highlighting a patient’s ability to email with their doctor.

About the Author

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of a suitcase somewhere in the world. Formerly of Minneapolis, MN and San Francisco, CA.