Weekend Media Threads, June 15, 2019


As any media nerd can tell you the best report of the year is Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, which was released this week at Recode Media’s annual Code Conference. After last year’s report I wrote about print media’s continued revenue decline as tied to its loss in time spent (as many others did and continue to do). Here is this year’s slide, which includes a nice comparison to 2010:

Media Time vs. Advertising Spending. Slide 22 from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report.

And here is last year’s slide as a reminder:

Media Time vs. Advertising Spending. Slide 96 from Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report.

It’s difficult to gauge the true loss year-over-year because we don’t know the true percentages. This is particularly true with print because the numbers are small. For example, if last year’s time spent was 4.4% (rounded to 4%) and this year’s is 2.5% (rounded to 3%), the YoY loss is 43%. But if last year was 3.5% and this year is 3.4% it’s just a 3% loss.

For arguments sake let’s use the round numbers in the report.

From the 2018 to 2019 report print saw a loss of 25% in advertising revenue share and a 22% loss in time spent. Which would make sense. If true, and it continues to track this way, the loss in time is likely to fall another 43% before it matches today’s print advertising revenue output.

Which means print advertising revenue will likely fall another 40-50% to somewhere between one and two percent of the ad revenue market. It’s difficult to imagine how legacy publishers survive this kind of loss.

Another interesting item from this year’s slide is that three of the five categories – TV, desktop, and mobile – all have the same percentage advertising spend as they do time spent. TV is at 35%, desktop 18% and mobile 33%. However, there is movement within each category.

In TV this is the second year in a row where the two columns were equal. Last year they were at 36%, now they are at 33%. A loss of 6% from each column.

On desktop time spent remained the same, but advertising spend fell from 20% to 18% to match the time being spent.

The big mover was mobile. Time spent increased from 29% to 33%, a 14% gain. While revenue increased from 26% to 33%, a 27% gain.

This leaves us with radio. Similar to print, radio if off kilter. Except in the opposite columns, which is likely not awful news. Time spent with radio has a 12% share, down from 13% last year. Advertising spend has an 8% share, down from 9%.

The question now is, will advertising spend continue to align with time spent, or will marketers move more dollars into mobile until it has a disproportionate spend?

This chart has been moving towards this equilibrium since it has existed, so my best guess is that the shares will move in sync with each other. The exceptions being print and radio.

Print’s revenue will continue to fall, maybe at a faster rate that it has been. To keep profits steady, print will slash more content, which will suppress time even more. Eventually both will settle in at 1 – 2%, but what will be left?

And radio? I haven’t followed as closely as print, but if I’m correct in saying that time spent and advertising spend are finding an equilibrium, I could see revenues stabilize as time continues to fall.

And time will continue to fall in traditional media.

Why?

Adults are constantly online …

… or ‘almost constantly,’ as this slide illustrates:

Percentage of adults online almost constantly. Slide 162 from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report.

Overall adults spend 26% of their time online. Up 24% from 2015. More than a quarter of time spent online is a big number, but look at the groups 18-29 and 30-49. They spend 39% and 36% of their time respectively online.

The biggest jump from 2015 to 2018 are those folks in the 30-49 age range. They jumped from 28% in 2015 to 36% in 2018. That’s an almost 30% increase in just three years. I’m sure a lot of this is driven by folks in the 18-29 range aging into their 30’s, but it also speaks to how connected we’ve become to our technology.

To help combat the amount of time spent with our technology, technology companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube) are now offering wellness and time tracking tools.

Which is the definition of irony. Especially in the case of Facebook and YouTube. They’ve built technology and algorithms specifically designed to get you to spend more time on their platforms, not less.

But maybe it’s starting to work.

Percentage of adults online almost constantly. Slide 164 from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report.

Time spent on social media is starting to decelerate. It’s still growing, just not as fast as it was. I’m sure after Facebook and Alphabet shareholders get a look at this slide those time watching tools will get tweaked to match market expectations, not user health.

And there is so much more

Seriously, this report has so much in it.

I know it’s 333 slides, but if you have any interest in the internet I highly recommend you take some time and page through it. It’s not just about media either. It gets into how the internet amplifies our own interests as well as bad actors, privacy concerns and regulation around the world, content moderation, the economy and on-demand jobs …

I could go on, but you need to look for yourself. Here’s the link, go …


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