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Now That We Know Mary Meeker Was Right, What Are We Doing About It?

mobile usageHere it is — 2014, the year Mary Meeker predicted, five years ago, that mobile Internet usage would usurp desktop Internet usage. 

And here many of us are, reading this from our desktop at work. 

But save the common use of desktops in the workplace, it's likely you checked your Gmail, Twitter and New York Times feed all from the comfort of your bed this morning, your computer across the room, in another room, or wholly absent from your home altogether. You simply used your phone. 

Smartphones have almost wholly replaced our alarm clocks, our radios, our newspapers and, yes, our computers. And much of that happened long before 2014. 

Think more like two years ago. 

Between 2005 and 2012, the smartphone operating system market share was completely dismantled by iOS and Android. In 2005, Nokia Symbian owned the majority of the space, followed by Linux. Android and iOS operating systems hardly held market share at all. But, by 2012, Android and iOS all but owned the space -- making the way for a new generation of smartphone that would eventually serve as platform for all things digital.

Add to that this tidbit: for the third year in a row, mobile ad revenue has seen triple digit growth -- resulting in $7.1B in 2013.

The tech industry moves fast, doesn't it?

And now, Internet ad revenue has fully surpassed the behemoth that is broadcast ad revenue -- and that is truly revolutionary. 

Revolutionary, of course, but not unforeseen. 

The Internet has been earning every second of our collective attention for years -- and only doing so more seamlessly with each new device (think wearable tech, augmented reality and drones). We are all very quickly becoming the boy who lived in a bubble -- our robotic clones and digital lookalikes carrying on in the dangerous world outside our comfort zone. 

But, when it comes to mobile, the Internet takes a backseat to native apps -- which better cater to our expectation of seamless user experiences. Because after all, if our bubble doesn’t look pretty, why use it at all?

OK, sure. That mentality might seem like a stretch, but experience drives our tech adoption -- and in this arena, apps currently beat out the mobile web, which is why in-app ads are gaining the most traction and producing the highest ROI. 

First Impressions Matter -- Bubble Boy or Not

It's taken the Internet a long time to catch on to what most of us know intrinsically: how things look affects how we respond to them. It's why Pinterest took off the way it did. It's why Instagram filters are a big deal. It’s why we still, no matter how many times you tell us not to, judge books -- even e-books -- by their covers. We're a visual species, at least at the surface.

And though the mobile web exists, and comes pre-downloaded on our fancy smartphones, the search results we find there just don't do justice to the apps we call home (you know, the ones you use day in and day out). Sure, you might use the mobile web when trying to figure out which came first, the chicken or the egg, but then you go to your Facebook app and post your thoughts. Plus browse what everyone else is doing while you’re there, too. 

Besides, there's probably an app for that question anyway.

Life After Mary Meeker's Spot On Prediction 

Now that mobile ad revenue is set to take over both broadcast and Internet, what will you, the marketers, do about it? 

The answer: you'll make sure mobile advertising experiences don’t mimic the pitfalls of banner ads or screen takeovers or random video dropdowns that have been annoying people on the web since the very first days of the web. These ads are why people moved to a bubble. They are why ad blockers exist. They are why digital media took so long to truly monetize. 

Because first impressions matter -- no matter how many of them you have -- and that first impression needs to be beautiful and smart. And now that we know which platforms will provide the best ROI, we can focus on which brands, partnerships and sponsors will get the best traction on those platforms. This means digital media companies need to act as their own ad agency, selling partnerships and sponsorships that delight and surprise their customers, rather than turn them off. 

Advertisers, you have their attention on mobile. The trick now is knowing what to do with it. Let's not make the same mistakes. 

(mobile / shutterstock)

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