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Nexxus Blog

Our analysis of the (Jaw Dropping) Meeker Internet Trends Report, Part 1

03 Jun 2015

Your Marketing Plan vs. the Speed of Change

This is the first in a 3-part series where we will highlight key stats from just-released report on global internet trends and provide our perspective on implications for life science marketers.

The data presented below comes from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2015, a highly anticipated annual report and one of the foremost sources of essential Internet statistics. Meeker leads the digital practice at elite Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins (a firm famous for being one of the early investors in Google, Amazon and Genentech, just to name a few) and is widely seen as a leading expert on emerging technology trends. She has been named one of ‘the ten smartest people in tech’ by Fortune magazine and was listed as the ‘77th most powerful woman in the world’ by Forbes in 2014.

This year’s report is extensive (197 slides!), so let’s dive in on some highlights.

In 1995, just 20 years ago, there were only 35 million people on the Internet. As of 2014, 2.8 billion people are online, some 39% of the global population. Mobile phone use has gone from 1% of the global population in 1995 to nearly 75% in 2014.

Furthermore, the number of hours spent on the Internet has more than doubled in the past 7 years in the U.S. - from 2.7 hours in 2008 to 5.6 hours in 2015. Notably, time spent online via desktop computer has remained relatively flat, and the bulk of the growth comes from time spent on mobile devices. We now spend more time on mobile than we do on print AND desktops/laptops combined. (We’ll go into more detail on the opportunities mobile presents healthcare marketers in the next blog post.)

Figure 1: Internet Usage Continues to Grow (U.S. data)


At the same time that our attention has shifted to mobile devices, the number of channels available for individuals to discover content has increased and, perhaps more importantly, the speed of adoption using those channels has radically accelerated. For marketers this means more channels to reach an increasingly distracted audience.

Figure 2: Opportunities For Content Discovery Are Multiplying


[Sidenote: We’ve seen many industry presentations about digital trends that have cited a popular statistic about the accelerating pace of technology adoption -  specifically that “it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people, 4 years for the Internet to reach 50 million, 2 years for Facebook and 3 months for the iPhone.”  While it turns out that’s not actually true, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least point you to a Wall Street Journal article that explains the story behind the statistics. And based on the graphic above, it does appear that there is some aspect of acceleration – at least in terms of the pace of introduction of new content channels.)

As a result, it is more important than ever that multichannel marketers have a strategy to deal with media/audience fragmentation and that they utilize many channels to get content out.  In principle, this means syndicating content so that you allow customers to (metaphorically speaking) sip your content from hundreds of wells rather than a single firehose.  In practice, this means having your content formatted for distribution across many platforms and placing smaller dollar amounts across many more media properties. 

Internet’s Impact On Healthcare – The Opportunity Is Huge

The Internet has transformed industries. But to date, as highlighted by Meeker in Figure 3 below, healthcare has seen less Internet-driven innovation.

Figure 3: Relative Impact of Internet on Different Sectors to Date


This points to tremendous opportunities for healthcare marketers to innovate - and also suggests we may see significant disruption for the healthcare industry as a whole in the coming years.

Healthcare Marketers Must Rethink Innovation

In the rest of the business world, companies must iterate constantly to stay competitive. Technology companies, for example, have product lifecycles measured in months (e.g., think 3-12 month cycles for hardware and 1-3 month cycles for software in the smartphone business). In this environment, marketers must quickly explore and test marketing messages in multiple channels, then adjust their marketing spend based on where their audience is moving. These marketers look at being first-adopter in a novel content channel as a badge of honor.

In healthcare, product life cycles can run 17 to 20 years, and the regulated nature of promotion leads to long revision and review cycles for marketing content. As a result, what is defined as ‘fast and iterative’ in healthcare is very different from the rest of the business world. Case in point, channels like Facebook and Pinterest, which have been already been adopted as mainstream in other sectors, are mostly still relegated to the ‘test and innovate’ line item in pharmaceutical marketing plans today. Also of note, according to IMS Health data tracking of digital promotional spend, the top 30 promoted pharma brands increased their digital spend by 277% between 2011-2014 – yet, even with that jump, digital still represents only 2.3% of their total promotional spend.

Meeker suggests healthcare is shifting towards consumer-driven, value-based care. Consumers have come to expect marketers will engage with them in every channel. Healthcare marketers are not yet delivering on this level. This provides opportunity for technology solutions and proactive healthcare marketers.

A more agile approach to healthcare marketing might mean embracing the 80-20 rule: Placing 80% of the emphasis in ‘tried and true’ channels and 20% in ‘test and learn’ channels. This strategy requires management buy-in as well as an understanding that it might lead to more operational complexity and a need to overcome legal-regulatory challenges.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss the impact of mobile on your marketing plan and in the third we’ll look at lessons from global markets.

If you'd like to learn more about how to accelerate your marketing capabilities and develop a test and learn culture, download our whitepaper: Flipping the Model - Making Marketing Move Further, Faster in a New Technology Era or email us at