The internet in 2019

OPENSEED Digital Consultancy

The most anticipated report of the year has been released in Silicon Valley, with analyst Mary Meeker unveiling her Internet Trends Report 2019.

This year’s report indicates more than half the world is now online and the average citizen is spending more time logging on and checking in than ever before.

However, with increased internet adoption comes new concerns and challenges.

Here’s an insight into the state of the internet in 2019, and the key takeaways when it comes to business.

Internet growth

More than half the world is now online, with 3.8 billion users accessing the internet globally. Since 2009, internet penetration has steadily climbed from just 25 per cent of the world having access to 51 per cent now logged on in 2018.

However, that growth has slowed in recent years. Previous year on year internet growth had been seven per cent, but was just six per cent in 2018 as new markets became harder to find.

This corresponded with declining smart phone sales as maximum market penetration was achieved.

Key takeaway

An internet presence is a must for business. If you do not have an online presence including a website, and social media profiles, you are near invisible in the modern digital age.

Internet usage

People are spending more time on the internet than ever before, with the average American user spending 6.3 hours online daily. That’s half an hour more than in 2017.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of Americans indicate they are online almost “constantly”.

Meanwhile, over half that time (3.6 hours) is courtesy of mobile devices, while two hours per day is spent on desktop devices and 0.7 of an hour is spent on other connected devices.

That’s leading to a movement which sees many people trying to limit their digital media usage.

The report found 63 per cent of US adults were now trying to restrict their smart phone usage, compared to 47 per cent the year prior.

Key takeaway

Mobile optimisation is a must for any website. The smart phone and mobile devices are the access platform of choice for many users, allowing them to log on, and check in while on the run.

TV versus internet

In the USA, adults are expected to soon spend more time on their mobile devices than they do watching television. The report indicates in 2019 the switch will occur, with adults spending 226 minutes per day on a mobile internet device versus 216 watching television.

Meanwhile, our consumption of digital video is also impacting previous television viewing habits.

In the US, 28 per cent of TV viewing time is now spent watching digital video, compared to just four per cent in 2010, and consumption of short-form videos like Facebook and Instagram stories has increased markedly.

Facebook stories consumption, for example, has doubled in the past year with 1.5 billion daily average users.

Key takeaway

Video via social media is an increasingly popular way of providing an insight into your business or product, whether that’s through Facebook Live or stories.

Podcasts rising

Podcasts are also rising in popularity, with 70 million monthly average users compared to 22 million in 2008. In fact, in the past four years the consumption of podcasts has roughly doubled.

Key takeaway

For enterprises looking to boost their authority or market share, informative, interesting podcasts can be a valuable tool.

Social media usage

The average time people spend on social media globally each day is around 15 per cent, equating to an increase of one per cent on 2017.

When it comes to the most popular social media channels, Facebook still reigns supreme, but that usage has dipped slightly since 2017, while YouTube is experiencing a rapid rise.

  • 30 per cent of internet users utilise Facebook
  • 27 per cent use YouTube
  • 25 per cent use WhatsApp
  • 23 per cent use WeChat
  • 19 per cent use Instagram
  • 15 per cent use Facebook Messenger
  • 11 per cent use Twitter
  • 5 per cent use Snapchat
  • 4 per cent use Pinterest
  • 2 per cent use Twitch

Key takeaway

A social media presence is a must for any business and should include regular updates and interesting posts. Meanwhile, it’s important to vary the method of information delivery to include memes, video and text.

The pros and cons of social media

One slide in the Meeker report truly stands out as it delves into the impact of social media use.

Asked whether social media makes a series of health factors better or worse, respondents indicated:

It made their lives better in the following ways (in descending order)

  • Self-expression
  • Self-identity
  • Community building
  • Emotional support
  • Awareness of others
  • Access to health info
  • Real-world relationships
  • Loneliness

Social media made their lives worse in the following ways (in descending order)

  • Sleep quality/amount
  • Fear of missing out
  • Bullying
  • Body image
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Key takeaway

When using social media for business, ensure the message is informative, yet positive.

Internet storytelling

Meeker’s report also paints a fascinating picture of storytelling in the digital age. It notes image creation is increasing, and image sharing is rapidly rising, supported by new image enhancement tools across smart phones and social media.

People are increasingly telling stories via edited images and video, the report notes.

Key takeaway

Imagery should be a key component of every brand’s storytelling framework, because a picture paints a thousand words.

YouTube as a learning tool

Over the past six years, YouTube has emerged as a learning tool, last year clocking up 4.5 billion hours of “how-to” viewership.

In fact, 59 per cent of Gen Z-ers cited YouTube as their preferred tool for learning.

Key takeaway

Harness the power of the how-to trend, offering your clients an insight into how products are used or how services are undertaken.

Data driven

It’s little secret data is a big deal that is transforming the way businesses understand their consumer and meet their expectations.

This data is being utilised to understand everything from consumer preferences to improving business communications, workflow, order fulfilment and commerce.

Or in the words of Looker CEO Frank Bien: “Data is now fundamental to how people work and the most successful companies have intelligently implemented it into everyone’s daily workflow. Data is the new application”.

Meanwhile, this data can be applied to better cater to the consumer through personalisation.

The report cites the following research to illustrate that point, noting a survey of retail customers found:

  • 91 per cent prefer brands that provide personalised offers/recommendations
  • 83 per cent are willing to passively share data in exchange for personalised experiences
  • 74 per cent are willing to actively share data in exchange for personalised experiences

And this is just the beginning of what’s to come, according to IDC’s David Reinsel, John Gantz and John Rydning.

“The data driven world will always be on, always tracking, always monitoring, always listening, and always watching because it will always be learning.”

Key takeaway

Data can offer you a wealth of insight into your consumer’s habits, and their preferred marketing topics.

E-commerce solid but slowing

E-commerce continues to increase but has also slowed slightly from 12.4 to 12 .1 per cent and is now responsible for 15 per cent of all US retail sales.

Key takeaway

An omni-channel offering that allows your clients to purchase online and in the real world will continue to be an important strategy for any bricks and mortar business.

Smart technology

Smart speakers are continuing to infiltrate homes and workplaces, with the report noting 47 million people have an Amazon Echo installed in their home, roughly doubling the market penetration from last year.

In the interim, the skills these smart speakers have are also increasing. Amazon Echo has about 90,000 skills as of 2019, compared to almost 30,000 in 2018.

Wearable adoption is also continuing to increase, effectively doubling in the past four years from 25 million users in 2014 to 52 million in 2018.

Key takeaway

The rise of smart speakers will result in increased commerce using these devices, along with increased ‘how to’ and ‘where is’ searches. Ensure your internet presence and ranking will allow you to stand out from the crowd.

Online health

The internet is increasingly being employed as a health tool in numerous ways. The report notes in the US:

  • 80 per cent of people now head online for health information
  • 60 per cent access provider reviews
  • About 25 per cent use online tracking
  • 30 per cent employ wearables
  • About 30 per cent access video telemedicine

Key takeaway

If your business services the health sector, such as dental services or orthodontics, use the power of the search to help inform and enlighten prospective clients.

About Openseed

At Openseed we specialise in planting the seeds of customer reach through compelling brands and SEO optimised websites. We then nurture kernel of great content, devising strategies and storytelling to support business in their ongoing conversation with their customer. Ultimately it reaps an ongoing harvest that delivers business real and proven results.

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