Mary Meeker's Web 2.0 Presentation, or How to Turn the Worst of Times Into the Best of Times

The presentation that Kleiner Perkins’ Mary Meeker made earlier this week at Web 2.0 has been making the rounds, as well it should. The slide that best summed up the state of our world, was #65 (out of 67). It said simply:

        Economy – Often darkest before dawn. At least we know what the problems are. Now we need the resolve to fix them. Across-the-board sacrifice needed.      (Editor’s note: Which we’re so good at!)

        Tech industry – Wow! Unprecedented times! If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …”*

        *Rudyard Kipling  - “If”

Or maybe we should quote a little Dickens, and translate this slide to: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But go through the slides, and you may just discover how to turn the latter into the former.

The reason I bring this slide up is because, in looking through the presentation, it becomes clear that if advertisers can turn their gaze away from the car crash that is the economy, there’s still great opportunity in investing ad budgets in technology, because that’s where the money is going, and where the diverging roads of the economy and the tech industry just might come together. The facts that are truly eye-popping in Meeker’s presentation are the ones about mobile – particularly smartphone penetration – and commerce.

To wit:

  • E-commerce has outpaced U.S. retail sales for the last year, and didn’t suffer nearly the decline back in 2009 that sales overall did. While retail sales rose roughly 7 % (surprising, I know), e-commerce rose 15 %. Yeah, about twice as much.




  • As it was with radio during the Great Depression, Internet and smartphone penetration have continued to grow at crazy trajectories throughout the current downturn – with mobile demonstrating the sharpest growth curve of all.



Entangled within the presentation are also the newest numbers that support what everyone in digital is well too aware of: that ad spending in digital media still vastly lags how much time consumers spend with it. When you layer that fact onto the huge growth in mobile commerce, you wonder why advertisers aren’t more willing to put their money where the transactions are. TV, despite 800 numbers, and the best efforts of cable providers to push addressable advertising, can’t do that. Some more facts -- or are they punchlines?



If you’re an advertiser. look at the facts before you, and try to understand what they say: if you invest in online media, and get in early on mobile, you can take advantage not only of the eyeballs that are increasingly gravitating to those platforms, but also, in a bottom-line driven world (made more so during the Great Recession), to something far more impactful: sales.

How should marketers start reallocating budgets? Look at this presentation and repeat after me: “Well, duh.”


2 comments about "Mary Meeker's Web 2.0 Presentation, or How to Turn the Worst of Times Into the Best of Times".
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  1. Brian Hayashi from ConnectMe 360, October 20, 2011 at 4:42 p.m.

    Consumers don't buy the same car every year because that's what everyone else does. These days, consumers aren't asking if they should buy GM or Toyota...they're asking themselves if they should buy a car at all.

    Marketers should be more like consumers. They should be asking themselves what their spend is getting, and whether that spend is in an area that will deliver compound returns over time or whether that spend is to double-up on a historical model.

    They should be learning more the marketers who have been engaging Facebook and Zynga --if they're going to spend money on an emerging platform, what will Zuckerberg/Pincus do to carve out special placements, preferential rights, etc.?

    In short, instead of treating the spend as a transaction, do it like they do at the TV upfront. Treat your newly-discovered BFF as an ongoing relationship with upfront and scatter spend, with bonuses and penalties based on how well they met pre-negotiated goals.

  2. Geoff Simon from Simon Search Marketing, October 30, 2011 at 2:31 a.m.

    I know a lot of advertisers are aware of the opportunities in mobile, location based marketing in particular in certain retail markets, but the volume is such that their spend on those channels (as a % of total media) is limited not by budgets but by inventory.

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