June 21, 2019

Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report — What Pharma Marketers Need to Know

Photo of internet trends guru Mary Meeker

Mary Meeker, tech maven and founder of the newly created Bond Capital — and former partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers — recently presented her latest internet trends report at Recode’s Code 2019 conference, and this one was nearly as large as the 2017 presentation. The report contained 333 slides and covered a range of trends in sectors including e-commerce, advertising, data, education, employment, immigration, healthcare and more. While we won’t tackle every sector, we’ve identified three areas of interest for pharma marketers.

Digital Healthcare: Good for Patients and HCPs
As patients become more involved in making decisions about their healthcare, research shows the result is increased satisfaction and improved health outcomes. According to a 2018 Rock Health Digital Health Consumer Adoption Survey of 4,000 people, 80% of respondents said they looked for health-related information online. The survey also showed that 60% of respondents said that among leading internet companies, they trust Google with their healthcare data, followed by Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Facebook and IBM.

Consumers also reported increased use of online healthcare provider reviews, mobile health tracking tools, wearables and live-video telemedicine. It’s worth noting that wearables are losing their appeal as fitness trackers and are being used by some to manage a diagnosis. Apple’s ResearchKit is an example of what CEO Tim Cook calls the “democratization of healthcare,” in that it provides health data directly to consumers so they can manage their health.

Consumer Adoption of Digital Health Tools

Healthcare providers are also benefiting from healthcare digitalization. Membership on networking sites like Doximity continues to increase – the site had nearly 1.2 million registered global members in 2017. Companies like Collective Medical are helping multiple care teams collaborate in real time to provide the best, most informed care for patients. Google continues to work in the AI / machine learning space to detect diseases more accurately than humans; DeepMind, which Google acquired in 2014, has created Streams, which transmits important patient information – test results, vitals, etc. – to doctors and nurses so they can have the most current, relevant information on each patient

The Microsoft Healthcare Bot service enables healthcare organizations to build and implement an AI-powered, compliant, conversational healthcare experience at scale. The service pairs built-in medical intelligence with natural language capabilities, extensibility tools and compliance constructs, making it possible for providers, payers, pharma, HMOs, and telehealth services to give people access to trusted and relevant healthcare services and information.

Electronic health record systems are still a sore spot: Meeker noted that the top physician “want” for future EHR development was interoperability, followed by predictive analytics and financial/cost data integration.

When developing tools and services for patients and HCPs, pharma must continue to focus on maintaining engagement, providing value and ensuring data security.

Data Privacy, Targeting and User Experience
“Developing a better user experience produces by far the most viral effect and impact when investing in growth.” Barry McCarthy – CFO, Spotify

The more information we have about our audiences, the better the user experience we can create. But what happens when people start limiting access to their data?

As privacy concerns gain even more traction, Meeker said, expect more options to secure online communications. Privacy regulations like the European Union’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are paving the way for consumers to better control what data is shared and how it is used. Facebook’s upcoming launch of its Clear History tool – which allows users to view (and have removed) data collected from third-party sites that is then used to target them on Facebook – is an example of one social platform stepping up its privacy game.

How can pharma marketers get audiences to not opt out of sharing data? Meeker offered the following stats from non-pharma scenarios:

  • 91% prefer brands that provide personalized offers / recommendations.
  • 83% are willing to passively share data in exchange for personalized experiences.
  • 74% are willing to actively share data in exchange for personalized experiences.

“Freemiums” are also a great way to gain audience loyalty. On Spotify, for example, new users can try the service for free, and once they fall in love with it, they’re willing to pay for a subscription.

Online Streaming Chart

For pharma, personalized offers, “freemiums” and recommendations might take the form of prescription coupons, development of apps/tools that provide reminders for medication adherence or chatbots that answer frequently asked questions about conditions and treatments, or even patient-specific educational material on specific conditions.

Meeker also shared examples of companies that were able to collect data and “quickly close experience gaps” to improve UX. This may be easier to accomplish outside the world of pharma marketing, but we can still learn from their successes. One company, FabFitFun, uses regular surveys of audience preferences to finetune their products. Adidas employs data from Salesforce to respond to customer expectations. HelloFresh, a meal-delivery service, uses Slack bots to monitor social media and alert the company to customer mentions so it can gauge sentiment. In short, staying connected and being responsive to audience concerns is worth it.

Online Usage: The Where and What
More than half the world’s population is now connected to the internet, and time spent on digital media among U.S. consumers is increasing, from an average of 2.7 hours in 2008 — with only .3% being accessed via mobile — compared with 6.3 hours in 2018 and more than half accessed via mobile.

Percentage of Adults That Report Being Online

U.S. users report spending 28% of their time online watching videos and less time on social media, and image- and video-sharing platforms like YouTube and Instagram are gaining ground on Facebook globally. On Twitter, more than 50% of tweets now include images, video or other media. Meeker cited the evolution of Instagram to illustrate the growing trend of image sharing: in 2011, image sharing was primarily about sharing photos of what you and your friends were doing; now, in 2019, advertising is in full swing, and users can “shop the look” they see in photos.

Even though people report spending more time online, in 2018, 63% of adults surveyed said they were trying to limit smartphone use, and digital leaders like Apple, Google, Facebook and YouTube have been paying attention – each has launched tools to help users track that time.

What does all this mean for pharma marketers? As consumers become more mindful of their time online, marketing messages must be concise, relevant and as personalized as possible. Video and photography are engaging formats and should be used when appropriate.

Ultimately, there wasn’t much new coming out of this year’s trends report, but that doesn’t mean we can sit back and take a breather.

You can read the full 2019 report here.

Download our PDF of the recap.

Want to compare this year’s trends with last year’s? Get our 2018 summary here.