The Muted Power Of Streaming Ads, And Other Woes

What Mary Meeker says carries a lot of weight if for no other reason than tradition. Her analysis of trends has a tendency to start or stop trends or help them along on their up or down trajectories.

What she said last week was that the Internet biz is flat. That’s neither a big thumbs up or big thumbs down. But in a business where percentage increases are always double digits (at least), her assessment was like a reversal of an old saying. The Internet has been up so long, looks like down to me.

Even the Associated Press doesn’t think the Internet should be capitalized anymore, but I’m pretty sure they were talking about big and small letters, not actual capitalization. The AP style change took place June 1, the same day Meeker gave her slide show for Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers. Coincidence? Don’t make me laugh.



A big takeaway from her presentation actually came via research from the Unruly ad tech firm last year. It reported, and Meeker repeated, that 81% of viewers mute videos, 62% are annoyed by pre-roll and 93% would consider using ad blockers. This doesn’t seem to be an encouraging advertising environment, though I always wonder what equivalent statistics could be said for TV viewers. After all, the original ad blocker was the remote control, though Zenith’s Space Command never earned the notoriety of Ad Block Plus.

Her presentation noted that 419 million people worldwide now block mobile ads, an even more substantial number when you consider that there are 1.9 billion smartphone users. That’s almost one out of four phones. But the good news is that only 14 million of those blockers are in North America which at this point makes the mobile blocking situation more like a growing annoyance than a crisis in this country.

In fact, if you looked at Meeker’s analysis the way most Americans would--that is, looking just at the situation here in the U.S., the Internet situation is much better. Mobile advertising here went  up 66% between 2014 and last year. Internet advertising went up 20%. The $60 billion spent last year was nearly double what was spent in 2012 ($37 billion).

Meeker’s subtopic was that where viewers view is changing radically. For example, she noted, more people watched the MTV Music Video Awards and college football via Snapchat than actually watched those events on TV. She also predicted that Twitter’s NFL contract will be a game changer (sorry for that ) in 2016, because it will push together social media, stats, replays and live video on one platform.

The underlying subtopic of the whole business, though, seems to be how much of all that advertising is being funneled to just a few players--Facebook and Google and YouTube specifically.  They accounted for 76% of the growth last year, with others picking up the rest. Those scraps are still worth billions, but that dominance of the digital ad business growth is a trend I think some people would rather not forecast.

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