The Mobile Gold Rush Has Just Begun

Mary Meeker is one of the few folks who was a leading figure during the first dot com boom who is still playing a similar role.  (Contrast her with Mark Andreesen, who back then was the wunderkind behind Netscape, and today is an elder statesman and VC)

That’s actually a good thing, because she continues to deliver insight through analysis.  Yet I couldn’t help but feel struck by a sense of deja vu when I saw her recent internet trend slides:

The money slide is the first one in the article, which compares overall ad spend with time spent on media.  The two things that stick out like a sore thumb are that by this measure, print is enormously overvalued (6% of time, 23% of ad dollars) and mobile is enormously undervalued (12% of time, 3% of ad dollars).

The reason I felt deja vu is that this is almost exactly what the graphs looked like at the dawn of the Internet era.  Having been in the online ad business since 1995, I still remember the excitement when we first developed the concept of the banner ad!

One of the key tenets we focused on was the belief that eventually, ad dollars would catch up with screen time for the Web.  Today, they essentially have; the Internet ad market represents 26% of screen time and 22% of spending.  Sadly, I couldn’t find any 2000-vintage graphs, but as recently as 2009, those numbers were 28% and 13%, so just in the past three years, the ad market dramatically shifted:

Back in 2000, when internet ad spending was roughly where mobile ad spending is today, people were wondering if online ads could ever have the impact on consumer spending as TV.  Google was a small search engine, and many dot com stocks were trading for under $1/share.

I’m sure a lot of people felt that market was mature.  They were wrong.  The list of leading internet companies today is radically different than in 2000; the same will apply to the mobile leaders if 2022.

The mobile gold rush has just begun.  There’s still time to stake your claim.

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