Meeker predicts huge rise in image and speech search

In just five years time, half of all searches will be spoken or based on images.

That’s according to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report, released June 1st.

Meeker is a general partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. She first published her annual Internet Trends report in 1995. And since then, for anyone with even a passing interest in knowing what’s happening (and about to happen) in digital, her report has become essential reading.

Other findings in the report:

  • Global internet growth is slowing, so too is the growth in Smartphone usage. But in the past five years two billion people started using mobile phones to access the internet, and in the next five years we’ll see two billion more.
  • Messaging apps (three of the most popular — Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram — are owned by Facebook) are likely to become the homepage for mobile devices. And with that will come new advertising opportunities.

Image Growth Remains Strong

Mobile phones and selfie-sticks have helped contribute to the rapid rise of photos shared over social media, with Generation Z users (20 years and younger) in particular preferring to communicate with images rather than written text.

But wait…there’s more! You can view the 213-page slide deck (or download it as a PDF) for an insightful commentary on recent trends, both internationally and in the US market.

Why should you care?

There’s a lot in the report, much of it highlighting trends that will have real impact over the next three to five years. But the report also highlights that, even today, we have been slow to adapt to a new market reality: consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, but advertising budgets still favour traditional media.

That said, there are challenges we need address if additional ad spend targeting mobile users is to achieve results.

The rise in the use of ad blockers points to the fact that consumers have little tolerance for irrelevant advertising. Tolerance is, we suspect, likely to be lower when using a mobile device, with their limited screen space and data usage caps.

Creating engaging, well-targeted ads for mobile users is only half the challenge. Advertisers have been hesitant to invest more in mobile advertising due to limitations in the tracking and measurability of cross-device and cross-channel conversions.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he develops search strategies for SureFire clients and helps them make sense of their website data.