Top Internet Trends and Implications for Retail, Media, and Healthcare

By Cindy Luu

Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report is stocked with incredible insights into how everyone is interacting with their digital platforms. Here’s a roundup of the top trends to look out for in 2017 and beyond, and how they’re shaping retail, media, and healthcare industries.

Low Smartphone Growth and Rising Internet Usage

The rate of growth in smartphone purchases has been declining year-over-year. Why? As the smartphone market matures, new entrants to the space will slow down. Android phone shipments still eat up a huge chunk of the market share, followed by iPhones and other smartphones.

But slow growth in smartphone shipments doesn’t mean people aren’t using them. In the U.S., adults are spending more time browsing their apps, web, and other digital media on their mobile phones compared to their laptop/desktop computers.

In 2016, adults spent 3.1 hours/day on their mobile phones vs. 2.2 hours/day on their desktop.

The Power of Voice

20% of mobile queries are made via voice.

The ability to call out a command in natural language is a powerful advantage that voice assistants have over typing, especially when you want information right away. Voice recognition accuracy is improving at a rapid pace with the help of machine learning algorithms.

Google’s machine learning software reaches 95% word accuracy.

The always-on and always-listening nature of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa will continue to drive the accuracy level higher. And one day, we’ll forget we’re actually talking to a machine.

Ad Spending — Mobile for the Win

U.S. ad spending is shifting from TV to the Internet, while mobile is the key successor. Successful advertising efforts are data-driven and leverage machine learning algorithms to make them relevant, personalized, and useful for consumers. Sending users curated ad content at the right moment is crucial; Google and Snap Inc. are the success stories of smart ad positioning.

Mobile ad spending accounted for 51% of ad spending in the U.S.

Google and Facebook alone account for 85% of the Internet’s ad growth.

User generated content from influencers and everyday people are more effective at driving engagement and revenue for brands. With a large selection of social media channels to share on, users can easily share their favourite restaurant, clothing, coffee shop, etc. and become a brand ambassador without realizing it.

User Generated Content = 6.9x higher engagement than brand generated content on Facebook!

Online Ads are Creating Opportunities for Retailers

The amount of data that retailers can gather from our search inquiries, such as what pictures we post, and which ads we interact with, are all valuable insights that retailers can use to understand how they can get our attention.

E-commerce growth is experiencing a 15% year-over-year increase.

The big winners of retail are e-commerce giants, like Amazon, who know how to analyze data and gain useful insights about what their customers need. We can buy a product on Amazon and easily repurchase it through Amazon Alexa, online through Amazon Prime, etc. The point is, they make shopping convenient, seamless, and personalized by recommending products based on data from their consumer’s online shopping trips. If retailers play their cards right, they can increase their revenue.

In-store experiences aren’t going away despite the recent soar of retail store closings. Amazon is opening physical stores. Have you visited Amazon Books or Amazon Go? Other digital brands are also opening experiential showrooms. The key in driving in-store retail traffic is creating innovative and engaging experiences with a seamless digital component. Go to the store, try a shirt on, then buy it online and get it delivered to your door the next day.

Media — Consumers are Streaming Everything!

When was the last time you bought a CD, or let alone played one? What about movies? Do you still buy DVDs? Consumers are now accessing their music, shows, and movies from streaming services. Both Spotify and Netflix are leveraging the power of AI to provide personalized artist or movie recommendations and it keeps their customers coming back for more.

You might expect music revenue to decrease, but contrary to this, recorded music revenue has gone up for the first time in 16 years!

Spotify is the leader with a 20% share of the global music industry’s revenue and 50 million paid subscribers.

The top 5 TV networks have lost an average of 10% of television minutes delivered, while Netflix gained 669% increase of minutes delivered.


Digital subscriptions are rising due to massive user experience improvements:

  • On-demand
  • A variety of choices
  • Personalization
  • Seamless payment systems
  • Two-way User Generated Content
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Healthcare is Becoming more Digital

    The influence of healthtech startups is growing and driven by consumers’ increasing demand for digital health solutions. VCs expressed their interest in the healthtech startup space, investing $4.2 billion in this space in 2016. The report indicated a growing amount of data available to us thanks to the digitization of healthcare, adoption of electronic health records (EHR), and more consumer tech products, such as wearables and mobile apps.

    87% of physicians in U.S. have adopted Electronic Health Records.

    Consumers are now more empowered to take preventative actions to combat health issues. We now have more access to data about our bodies and health conditions, allowing us to take action without having to wait in line to see a doctor.

    Medical research and knowledge is doubling every 3.5 years vs. every 7 years in 1980 and every 50 years in 1950.

    Consumers wanting on-demand information about their health and digital experiences will do just that. This is especially true for the Baby Boomer generation. As they get older, they will need more medical attention and advice, and there’s just not enough doctors to keep up with the demand.


    Key trends at a glance:

  • Internet usage is up while smartphone shipment growth is decreasing.
  • Voice commands typing.
  • Internet ad spending TV ad spending.
  • Retailers can leverage online ad data to boost revenue and improve in-store experiences.
  • Consumers are streaming all their media content using media subscription services, boosting music sales. TV and physical music consumption will continue to decline.
  • Consumers are increasing their use of digital health solutions, and driving growth in the amount of medical data available. Healthcare digitization will lead to more innovations in the delivery of healthcare services.
  • About the author

    Cindy Luu joined TribalScale’s Marketing team as the Communications Coordinator. On top of being mesmerized by all things tech, she’s a self-proclaimed foodie, enjoys exploring Toronto’s diverse communities, and keeping up with the latest shows and movies.

    Connect with TribalScale on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn! Visit our website to learn more about us!

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