As Internet usage reaches peak saturation, law firms need to explore new ways to profit from their online presence.
Such as: unbundling some of their services, offering free downloads, and letting clients do some of the work themselves.
Those observations come from Mary Meeker, the so-called “Queen of the Internet.” Each year, Meeker publishes her influential Internet Trends Report, which is known not only for its spot-on industry insights, but also for its length (this year’s report contains a staggering 333 PowerPoint slides).
“At more than 3.8 billion, the number of Internet users comprises more than half the world’s population,” she says in her most recent report. “While Internet user growth is slowing, global innovation and competition continue to drive product improvements, new types of usage and monetization.”
Another key finding: e-commerce is slowing, but only slightly. New markets are becoming harder to find, and growth opportunities are elusive.
On the flip side: Internet ad spending is soaring, as are freemium subscription models, on-demand economy apps, interactive gambling, and photo-sharing services.
11 Takeaways from the Queen of the Internet
Here are some of the key pronouncements from the Meeker:
- We are deluged by data. “If it feels like we’re all drinking from a data firehose, it’s because we are,” Meeker, a former Morgan Stanley analyst, reports.
- Internet overload is a real thing. “Consumers are taking steps to reduce usage. Leading USA-based Internet platforms have rolled out tools to help monitor usage. Social media growth appears to be decelerating following a period of strong growth.”
- Your firm’s future can hinge on a single tweet. “Owing to social media amplification, reveals/actions/reactions about events can occur quickly, resulting in both good and bad outcomes.”
- Some companies are killing it. These include Slack, Stripe, Spotify, Dropbox, Discord, Twitch, Zoom, Stitch Fix, Canva and Instagram.
- Privacy is top of mind. “As Internet systems become increasingly sophisticated, data-rich and mission critical, so has the opportunity for cyber-attacks. We are in a new era of cybersecurity where technology issues are increasingly intermixed with international diplomacy and defense.”
- Smartphones may be the canary in the coal mine. Worldwide sales of smartphones declined four percent. Could this be a harbinger of a coming tech crash?
- Ecommerce remains strong, but there are signs of slowing. Though the rate of annual growth (12.4 percent) of ecommerce is tapering off, physical retail continues to pay the price.
- Internet ad revenue is up. Google and Facebook lead the way. Amazon, Snap, Twitter and Pinterest are also seeing ad-spend gains.
- Personal recommendations drive growth. The Stitch Fix model relies 100 percent on data-driven, personal recommendations.
- Freemium subscriptions produce paying customers. “We really want to get customers to test our product,” writes Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. “It’s really hard to get customers to try Zoom without a freemium product. If they like our product, very soon they’re going to pay for a subscription. The most important thing is making sure the existing customer is happy rather than chasing after new prospects.”
- People really like podcasts. The number of regular podcast listeners has doubled (to 70 million) in four years. The most popular podcasts: The Daily/New York Times; The Joe Rogan Experience; Stuff You Should Know; Fresh Air; The Dave Ramsey Show; My Favorite Murder; TED Talks Daily.
What Internet trends are you seeing in your practice?