Dorothy Crenshaw July 17, 2017 | 11:58:55

Top Tech Trends That Affect PR: Mary Meeker 2017

Last month Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, Byers released her Internet Trends report for 2017, and all 355 slides are well worth a read for anyone in tech public relations or digital marketing. Here are some of the most relevant trends for PR.

Internet ad spend surpasses television spend

The lines will cross in the coming months, which was inevitable, so the news is symbolic. But this threshold crossing is a sign that major advertisers can no longer give short shrift to digital ad budgets. It may feel like it’s taken forever to happen — the first digital ad was placed in 1994. But it means that the disruption of the old order is complete, and future change will be swift.

Take a look at that blue line — it’s going nowhere but up! Public relations and content creation are positioned to gain their share of a fattening digital spend as well. Of course, TV isn’t going away, it’s just going to multiple platforms and over-the-top formats. Revenue will follow.

Yet ad-blocking continues to grow

Particularly on mobile devices, consumers are still using technology to block intrusive and irrelevant ads, placing pressure on digital marketers to deliver better ad messages. For public relations, ad-blocking is a mixed bag; some say it spells opportunity, but the economic harm to publishers is a far greater threat, at least in my view. It does reinforce the role and importance of engaging content. There has rarely been such an opportunity for earned media and paid to work together to create content that drives awareness, engagement, and search rankings.

Digital health is hot

Health tech is at “a digital inflection point,” according to Meeker. From connected devices that gather user data, to hospital networks, her statistics point to the explosive growth of personal and public health information. It has implications for product innovation, wellness, genomic research, and caregiver education. But most relevant of all may be the sheer amount of data available to consumers about their own health and wellness. The empowerment of the healthcare and health information consumer will be larger and more significant than ever before.

Mobile is still growing

PRs have long been aware that the content we create is increasingly consumed on mobile devices. Yet what’s interesting about Meeker’s data here is that desktop media consumption hasn’t really slowed, so mobile usage is largely additive. We’re simply always connected, apparently. It’s all digital, all the time.

Facebook and Google dominate digital advertising

Many marketers seem accepting of the fact that the two platforms control 80% of internet advertising, but there’s risk there, and not just for publishers. This is an existential threat to ad agencies, of course, but it also poses challenges and limitations for PR firms in ad networks as well as independents. It all comes back to content. As Wenda Harris Millard comments, “other players will need to create premium content that appeals to advertisers or use new technologies that aren’t yet mainstream.” Jeff Bezos, are you listening?

Malware remains an enormous threat

We continue to be very vulnerable to malware as cloud usage increases. So, any company who doesn’t already have a plan for how to proceed and how to communicate to customers and stakeholders in the wake of a malware episode should get busy now.

Gaming just won’t die

Gamification simply shapes the digital experience. The gaming industry generated $100 billion in global revenue in 2016, with nearly half coming from Asia. Meeker speculates that our conditioning to gamification is a prelude to human-computer interaction. So, don’t write off chatbot pitches just yet.

There’s a wealth of additional information that won’t surprise technology trend followers, but the data and insights are well worth pursuing. The report also reminds us of something no one should lose sight of, at least in my book. Of the top technology companies in the world, over half – actually 60% – were started by first or second-generation Americans, and fully half of the private startups were founded by first-generation immigrants to our country.

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