Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

More Bad News For Media Industry In KPCB Internet Report

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 1, 2017

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There's no good news for media companies in the latest Internet Trends report from VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as Google and Facebook share an astounding 85% of all new Internet advertising.

Last year it was 74% — an acceleration that demonstrates the competitive advantage of scale these companies have in the media sector or as Mary Meeker the report's author succinctly writes: "Big Get Bigger & Go After Other Bigs."

Meeker is a partner at KPCB, one of the first VC firms in Silicon Valley's famed Sand Hill Rd. She was a popular Wall Street analyst during the dotcom boom.

Here are some of the very bad Internet trends for those media companies that are not Google or Facebook:

 - Meeker points to an open $16 billion annual opportunity in mobile ads in the US market which should be good news for media companies. However, huge numbers of people with ad blockers are blocking this money. Google and Facebook are less affected by this issue and are making a fortune in mobile ads.

- Meeker warns that tying ad metrics to return on investment is a huge challenge and that there is a "triple-edge" to having accurate data. You might not like what it reveals and some publishers will suffer.

- Consumers say they want targeted ads but they don't want to be tracked which is a huge problem for publishers. Google and Facebook have a huge advantage over other media companies because they don’t need cookies to target users due to logins and popular services.

- Media companies cannot compete with new services from Google and Facebook on real-time conversions; incorporating location based ads; and demonstrating offline effects by showing retailers how they drive foot traffic in addition to online traffic. [I called it "Vectors of Engagement" in a 2014 column.] 

- In perspective: Last year Google and Facebook took $5.67 for each $1 of new business won by other media. It's an accelerating trend: A year ago the duo took $3.17 in new business for each $1 for everyone else. Meeker calls this pace of media disruption "torrid".


Foremski's Take:

"The trend is your friend" is sage Wall Street investment advice but there is nothing friendly about these Internet trends for any media company other than Google and Facebook.

They used to compete aggressively against each other with Google launching its own social media network and Facebook aligning with Microsoft in search. But those ventures were sidelined by the end of 2014 in favor of exploiting business opportunities in their areas. 

This accelerating dominance of Google and Facebook in online advertising is being examined by European Union regulators. However, any regulatory actions will do nothing to help reverse the fortunes of struggling media companies without the availability of a stable media business model accessible to all .

Also, the Meeker report does nothing to address a massive issue for all media companies: online ads continue to lose value. For example, Google reports less money per ad but somehow each quarter it manages to show even more of them and sail past Walls Street analyst estimates.

Greater numbers of less effective advertising is not a sustainable business model for any media company including Google.

The media industry apocalypse continues unchecked. And as the media sector shrinks companies are having to tell their own stories and become their own media companies, to standout, to make sure they are seen to be seen because if they don't they'll cease to exist. If we had a healthy media sector this wouldn't be needed.

 

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