Mary Meeker: 7 internet trends for finance brands to watch

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Queen of the internet speaks
By Susan Burchill, staffer. 2 July, 2019
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The latest Internet Trends report from Mary Meeker is a cornucopia of research insights curated and analysed from sources globally. A venture capitalist by trade, Meeker released her first report in 1995. Since then it’s become one of the most famous content marketing “blockbusters” in the world, certainly in the B2B world.

This year she’s bundled up and analysed far more findings than we could ever hope to capture in one blog, but we’ve narrowed it down to 7 areas that should give financial brands pause for thought. If these insights inspire action, even better.

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1. Our love affair with photos continues

  • New photos taken globally in one year number around 1.2T (trillion), up from around 0.7T in 2013.
  • Globally, for monthly active users of Instagram, image sharing has now exceeded the 1.0B (billion) mark. The practice of editing images is also growing rapidly, as is Instagram’s monthly active user base.
  • More than 50% of Twitter impressions now involve posts with images, video or other media.

As the report says, “Images are increasingly the means by which people communicate, as technology developments like faster wifi and better phone cameras have encouraged a surge in image taking.”

So the question is: do you have an up-to-date image strategy, and are you keeping an eye on image trends happening across Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest? Your images can even help you get found on Google.

2. Videos and podcasts rise in the popularity stakes

  • In the US, time spent watching digital video (versus television) has more than doubled in the five years to 2018.
  • In China, where 21% of the world’s internet users live (0.8B), and where mobile internet usage has accelerated +189% between 2017 and 2018, internet usage growth is driven primarily by short-form video.
  • The number of US monthly active users listening to podcasts has about doubled in four years to hit 70M, up from 22M in 2008. The most popular podcasts in 2018 were The Daily from The New York
  • Times, The Joe Regan Experience and Stuff You Should Know by iHeartMedia.
  • Video consumption – particularly short video, cuts across all age groups and platforms.

In the US, time spent watching digital video (versus television) has more than doubled in the five years to 2018.

If you don’t have a solid video and podcast strategy, now might be the time to explore ideas and commit some funds. (And that’s the key to video and podcasts – ideas and execution, not brand spruiking.) If you want to know how to create a finance podcast that doesn’t suck, click here.

And when it comes to video, we’ve done the research to determine what works best for finance brands. Take a read of our series of video articles.

3. China’s internet-based products and business models are worth watching

Alibaba’s Alipay has gone from an online and mobile payment system to what the report describes as a “super app” with 200,000+ “mini programs” (apps) that help users manage their healthcare, investments, invoices, car payments and insurance. 70% of its 1B users are using more than three financial services in the app, from payment and wealth management to financing, insurance and credit systems.

It’s another reminder to traditional financial institutions about the speed at which fintech can streamline the customer experience.

4. Mobile consumption still rising

Despite the slowdown in the global smartphone market, research shows US users spend 33% of downtime on their phones; and they spend more time on their mobile devices than watching TV, for the first time.

If you’re not mobile-first in your marketing, then you need to get there.

5. Drinking from the data firehose

Increasingly consumers, businesses and regulators are “drinking from the data firehose” says the report. Digital data that’s been gathered and analysed is often “core to the holistic success of the fastest growing and most successful companies of our time around the world”. Context-rich data in particular helps businesses provide consumers with increasingly personalised products and services, often at lower prices and delivered more efficiently. That drives customer satisfaction.

With many businesses still not using data for competitive advantage, either because they’re complacent or concerned about cost and/or failure, it’s a section of the report that’s well worth a read (slides 121 to 157).

6. Balancing personalisation with privacy

The good news is that data and artificial intelligence, when used properly, can improve customer satisfaction.

  • 91% of retail customers prefer brands that provide personalised offers/recommendations
  • 83% are willing to passively share data in exchange for personalised experiences
  • 74% are willing to actively share data in exchange for personalised experiences

But as the Mark Zuckerberg quote on slide 149 explains, there have been worldwide calls for privacy regulation to be introduced in line with new European GDPR regulations, which would protect consumers’ rights to choose how the information is used – across every sector including banking.

All financial institutions should review their privacy policies, procedures and approaches to keep personal information safe; no-one can afford to be complacent.

7. Cyber attacks on the up

As our internet systems become increasingly sophisticated, data-rich and mission critical, cyber attacks (including state-sponsored attacks) and extortion cases are rising in number, sophistication and scope. As more customers are moving to software-as-a-service and cloud, cyber attacks are increasingly focused on sensitive data. As a result, more and more people are turning to encryption as a safeguard.

Hiring, training and retaining cybersecurity staff has never been more critical for financial institutions.

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When Susan was a youngster she didn't know what she wanted to be, but somehow she fell into advertising; then digital was invented so she worked on websites for a while. From there it was a small leap over to TV producing, scriptwriting, promo writing, and some copywriting.... Then when content marketing became a 'thing', she somehow fell into that. It's worked out ok so far - luckily she's always landed on soft things.