Meeker: “Nowhere to Go But Up” for Internet Marketing

Describing the Internet as “the most underutilized advertising medium that’s out there,” Morgan Stanley managing director Mary Meeker said broadband adoption, mobile device usage and international growth are opening up a variety of opportunities for marketers, entrepreneurs and investors.

Meeker gave the keynote address at the Ad:Tech conference in San Francisco, which opened Monday and attracted an audience of 6,500 attendees, according to organizers.

The Internet guru said the growth of broadband penetration — which Morgan Stanley estimates at about 25 to 30 percent in the U.S. — will drive innovation over the next several years.

“When industries that are on a fast growth trajectory and get into the 25 percent going up to the 50 percent mark, that’s when they begin to hit the sweet spot for a lot of innovation,” Meeker told a crowd of marketers, advertisers and publishers gathered for the conference.

The adoption of mobile devices, especially across international markets, will also have a big impact, according to Meeker. She noted that 900 million people around the world were accessing the same platform with the same information at the same time.

“The only differences are those of access speed, language, and access device,” she said.

Advertisers’ propensity to follow users online, she said, is dependent on publishers’ and search engines’ development of tools that enable targeting, ease-of-use, and compelling ROI. Improvements to those tools will be one of the biggest growth drivers in the shift of offline to online marketing, Meeker predicted.

“We think the Internet has nowhere to go but up,” she said. “Obviously, that may not happen, but we believe it will.”

Meeker noted that Internet advertising spending per-household stands at only $120, as compared with $898 for newspapers.

EBay, which Meeker says has moved 62 percent of its advertising spend online, could be an early indicator of the industry’s future.

“We think it’s a pretty good prediction of the way things are going for the successful companies of our day and of the future,” Meeker noted.

Some of that increased spending, she believes, will go into broadband-enabled video ads — either on user-generated content or on content that’s currently difficult to find online. Meeker noted that of Yahoo’s streaming content offerings, only 10 percent are currently preceded by advertisements — a figure she expects to be at 50 percent in the next few years.

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