Yesterday, Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report came out, and as usual it was packed full of interesting data, insights and stats – 213 slides worth!

If your potential event attendees use the internet or own a phone (hint: they all do!) then you need to pay attention to the big shifts taking place online.

To save you a few hours digging through the full deck, we’ve digested the key points relevant to event organisers.

Here are the 5 key digital trends you should pay attention to.

#1: Innovation will be more important than ever

Pretty much the first 40 slides speak to the stagnation of growth, across internet adoption, mobile usage and even the economy as a whole.


In short, it’s a tough trading environment, and there aren’t many obvious macro trends set to alleviate those conditions any time soon.

So if the ‘easy’ growth is behind us, how will businesses (and events) continue to find success and carve out a profitable future?

Innovation. And a focus on efficiency.

For those of you who also read our own event industry Pulse Report, these findings won’t actually be surprising though.

The headlines there also showed that organisers are focused on driving growth through innovation; and doing it as efficiently as possible.

Action item: Dig out your post-its, brew some coffee and get brainstorming with your team on how you can find news ways to delight your customers, stand out from the crowd and grow efficiently.

#2: You’re probably wasting your marketing budgets

Slide 45 is really interesting for those of you with promotional budgets.


It shows there’s a pretty large gap between where companies are investing their marketing budgets versus where potential customers actually spend their time.

There’s been a precipitous decline in people reading traditional print media for example, but advertising hasn’t declined anywhere near the same level; while online – and particularly mobile – has captured the public’s attention, but the level of advertising hasn’t yet caught up.

So the question is, are you sure you’re spending money promoting your event in the places that have the attention of your attendees, or are you still stuck with legacy investments that don’t actually yield the results you need?

There’s also a second take-away from this slide, which is that the cost of advertising on mobile (and online) is relatively cheap because supply continues to outstrip demand, which should mean your online and mobile promotional investments deliver stronger ROI than elsewhere.

Invest now, and you’re ahead of the curve and will reap the rewards; wait until everyone’s caught on and you’ll end up paying more for less.

Action item: Review your promotional spend and understand if it’s working hard for you and invested in the right places (i.e. where your customers spend their time).

#3: Communication is a generational thing

There’s a few great slides on how different generations want to be communicated with in very different ways.

Slide 74 spells it out very explicitly.


Millennials are still primarily text based, but as you get to those in younger range of millennials and into Gen Z (early twenties and teens), images start to really dominate.

Photos, emojis, filters…more and more, rich images are replacing traditional text. So if you’re trying to reach that younger generation, you have to think visually first.

But if your audience is later twenties to early forties, then text will still probably serve you well – though complemented with strong images for sure.

Slide 90 really shows the explosive growth of image use messaging services become mainstream over the last couple of years.


There’s also a great insight into the different ways generations prefer to be contacted on slide 107.


As you can see, chat apps and social media dominate for millennials (Gen Y), while email remains popular for Gen X and Baby Boomers…but a phone call still remains their number one communication method.

Action item: Make sure you’re tailoring your communication style, methods and content to the type of audience you’re trying to reach.

#4: Everyone wants to tell (and share) their story

Slides 76-80 present a fascinating glimpse into the future of how people will communicate via short, live video feeds that are pumped back to their network of friends and followers across platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.


This is clearly a huge opportunity for event organisers, as you can continue to encourage your attendees – now enabled by the next generation of technology – to share their experiences live with their own audiences.

That’s not a threat. That’s free marketing, and it creates demand!

Don’t try to stamp it out, make it a behaviour you encourage by offering prizes, fast Wi-Fi and additional discovery mechanisms so that you’re tapping into the free influencer marketing on offer.

Action item: Encourage your attendees to share their event experiences live with their audiences.

#5: Data is still a huge (and unrealised) opportunity

Fast forward past nearly a hundred slides focused on China and Transport, and there’s one more big take-away you should pay attention to.



We’ve been talking about it for years and years, but the explosion of wearables, RFID and other technologies that generate data means that the opportunity to mine data for commercial success has just gone to the next level.

With a rapid advancement in technologies that help us to find insights from massive data, and visualise it in an easy to digest way, forward thinking organisers are now presented with twin opportunities.

Firstly, they’ll be able to utilise data to create even more personalised, amazing experiences for their attendees

And secondly they should be able to find ways to improve operational efficiencies, from reducing queues to better onsite traffic flow, reducing waste to more informed staff. The possibilities (and improvements) could be endless.

Action item: Find ways to capture more data (such as adopted RDIF technology), and then pay attention to what it’s telling you in order to find the business benefits. 


The start of this year’s Internet Trends report shows that the future could be a difficult one for businesses and event organisers alike, so it’s important we’re able to find points of differentiation and competitive advantage wherever possible.

Thankfully, for those willing to innovate and adapt, there’s also plenty of opportunity to do this.

The question is: which action items will you implement?

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