The Interesting Bits from Mary Meeker’s Massive Slide Deck
June 12, 2019 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
Described by some as “the most anticipated deck in Silicon Valley,” former Wall Street analyst turned VC, Mary Meeker did her annual data dump yesterday (.pdf). By way of context, the slides are put together by subordinates and sourced from third party data. There’s no original research or forecasting in the document.
At 333 pages — next year I think they’re looking to hit 666 — the primary value of the report is as a single overview of major digital trends. However, it’s not without errors or mistakes (and/or wishful thinking). For example, the deck argues that e-commerce is now 15% of U.S. retail. That’s incorrect. You can pick your metrics and data sources but the U.S. government pegs e-commerce at 10.2% of total US retail (Q1 2019).
The deck is bullish on continued internet growth — that’s a consistent bias — but what it often shows is a mixed picture. Many areas are slowing. Both e-commerce growth and overall internet usage growth are slowing in the U.S. That’s a function of the maturity of the segments. This is also true of smartphone ownership/adoption. This is not to say that there isn’t room for growth but high double and triple digit numbers are a thing of the past in many of these categories. Outside the US (e.g., India) may be a different story.
One of the points Meeker has historically made is that the ad-growth opportunity is captured in the gap between consumer time spent with a medium and the corresponding ad spend. The graphic below on the left (2010) illustrates this, with desktop and mobile usage vs. ad spend. In 2018, a time-spending equilibrium appears to have been reached. However, there’s still growth in time spent with digital/mobile vs. other media. For example, mobile time spent surpassed TV this year according to eMarketer. That argues marketers will continue to pour money into mobile advertising.
One of the major marketing wildcards is privacy regulation. Meeker touches on this but doesn’t take a strong position, beyond saying there may be an impact next year. For the most part the slides downplay the impact of CCPA and privacy generally on the revenues of major internet companies. That position would seem to be justified by what’s happened (or not happened) in the wake of GDPR in Europe.
In a similar vein, Meeker cites Pew Research data about overall sentiment on the internet. The data below are not unlike what people say about Congress: I hate Congress but like my representative. Still, there’s an increase in negative sentiment about the impact of the internet on society compared with 2014. Other surveys show different results, for example, when specific companies are the focus of the questions.
There’s not much about local; however Meeker calls out Nextdoor. This is one of the most interesting companies now in the segment. It has huge user base with a relatively engaged audience.
The charts below show Nextdoor recommendations and usage growth globally. The company is working on monetization and currently pursuing a national-local strategy in that regard. It will be interesting to see what they do with SMB and whether they can scale. Self-service is one obvious answer but nobody has quite gotten that right yet.
Nextdoor sees itself as an IPO candidate, I’m guessing, but others (Amazon, Google, Facebook, MSFT) may try to buy the company before that happens. Being a public company is initially lucrative for the investors but it can get brutal over time.
In this post, I’m ignoring all the China and non-North America discussion. Indeed, there are literally hundreds more slides. But these were the ones that struck me. My takeaways are: key areas of growth are slowing, however there remains a good deal of opportunity. Execution is a major challenge across the board, and privacy is a big X variable for marketers.