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What Trended on the Internet (2014 to 2017)

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Share of We Traffic by Device
Share of We Traffic by Device

By device, we can see what is trending on the internet and that there is a boom in mobile smartphone market share, and a reduction in laptops and desktops due to smartphones being handy with us most of the time. However this is also due to the boom in mobile internet, hence the grabbing of the growing market share.


Internet trends are continually evolving, but I can provide you with some significant trends that were observed between 2014 and 2017:

  1. Mobile Internet Dominance: The shift to mobile internet usage continued to grow rapidly. More people accessed the internet through mobile devices, leading to the development of mobile-first strategies by businesses and websites.

  2. Rise of Social Media: Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat experienced substantial growth during this period, transforming the way people connect, share information, and engage with brands.

  3. E-commerce Boom: E-commerce witnessed significant growth, with platforms like Amazon and Alibaba expanding their reach globally. Online shopping became more convenient, and mobile commerce gained prominence.

  4. Video Content Explosion: The popularity of video content, driven by platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and social media, soared. Live video streaming, in particular, gained traction.

  5. IoT (Internet of Things): The IoT continued to grow, connecting everyday devices to the internet. Smart homes, wearable devices, and connected cars became more common.

  6. Content Marketing: Content marketing emerged as a powerful digital marketing strategy. High-quality, informative content was crucial for engaging and retaining online audiences.

  7. Ad Blockers: Ad-blocking software usage increased, prompting advertisers and publishers to develop less intrusive and more user-friendly ad formats.

  8. Cybersecurity Concerns: High-profile data breaches and cybersecurity threats raised concerns about online privacy and security. This led to increased focus on cybersecurity measures.

  9. Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI and machine learning technologies made significant progress, impacting various sectors, from chatbots in customer service to personalization in content recommendations.

  10. Cloud Computing: The adoption of cloud computing continued to grow, making data storage and software accessibility more efficient and cost-effective.

  11. Online Streaming: Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime gained popularity, challenging traditional cable TV. Live streaming also became a dominant form of content consumption.

  12. Voice Search: With the rise of virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, voice search gained prominence, changing the way people performed online searches.

  13. Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies: The emergence of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum disrupted the financial and technology sectors, opening new opportunities for decentralized systems.

  14. Social Messaging Apps: Social messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat became central to communication, offering features beyond traditional texting.

  15. Fake News and Misinformation: Concerns over the spread of fake news and misinformation on the internet gained attention, leading to discussions about media literacy and content verification.

  16. Net Neutrality: The debate over net neutrality intensified, with discussions about equal access to online content and the role of internet service providers in controlling data flow.

These trends reflect the rapid evolution of the digital landscape during this period, setting the stage for subsequent developments in the internet and technology sectors. It's essential to recognize that internet trends are continually evolving, and staying updated is crucial for individuals and businesses operating in the digital space.


Mobile'sShare of We Traffic
Mobile'sShare of We Traffic

Looking across some key countries above, we see that the global average sits at just 33% in terms of mobile share of web traffic. What is also interesting is that a lot of developing nations towards the left seem to have high mobile penetration, as it is their primary means of connection, as compared to some developed nations that sit on the lower right of the spectrum, likely due to spreading it out across tablets and laptops / digital, as opposed to primarily mobile driven.


Mobile'sShare of We Traffic by Hootsuite
Mobile'sShare of We Traffic by Hootsuite

Nonetheless, figures point towards a profound increase in mobile share of web traffic in the coming years as demonstrated by incremental trends seen above.


As we see the share of mobile increase, it is also worth noting that many who are not computer savvy, have picked up their smartphones and easily connect to the internet and run their functions there. So this presents a great opportunity in targeting a growing global segment.


The increasing share of web traffic from mobile devices is a significant trend driven by several factors:

  1. Smartphone Proliferation: The widespread availability and affordability of smartphones have led to a surge in mobile device adoption. As more people own smartphones, they use them to access the internet.

  2. Improved Mobile Connectivity: The rollout of faster mobile networks, including 4G and 5G, has made mobile internet usage more seamless. This improved connectivity encourages users to access websites and content on their mobile devices.

  3. Responsive Web Design: The adoption of responsive web design by website developers ensures that websites are optimized for mobile viewing. This enhances the user experience and encourages mobile traffic.

  4. Mobile Apps: The popularity of mobile apps for various services, including social media, e-commerce, and news, has led to a shift in user behavior. People often use apps for a more convenient and tailored experience, contributing to increased mobile traffic.

  5. Search Engine Algorithms: Search engines like Google prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their search results. This "mobile-first" approach incentivizes website owners to optimize for mobile devices, as it impacts search rankings.

  6. Social Media: Social media platforms are predominantly accessed through mobile apps. As users engage with social media content, they frequently click on links and access external websites, driving mobile traffic.

  7. E-commerce and Mobile Shopping: The convenience of mobile shopping has led to a significant increase in e-commerce traffic from mobile devices. Mobile-optimized shopping apps and websites have become essential for retailers.

  8. Content Consumption: The consumption of content, such as news, videos, and blogs, has shifted to mobile devices. Users often access and share content on social media or via mobile apps, contributing to increased mobile traffic.

  9. Geolocation and Location-Based Services: Mobile devices offer location-based services and geolocation features. Users access maps, find nearby businesses, and engage with location-specific content, boosting mobile traffic.

  10. Personalization: Mobile devices offer a personalized experience, with apps and websites tailored to users' preferences and behaviors. This personalization encourages continued mobile usage.

  11. Mobile Payments: The rise of mobile payment platforms and digital wallets has made it easier for users to make transactions and engage with businesses on mobile devices.

  12. Entertainment and Gaming: Mobile devices are increasingly used for entertainment, including streaming video, gaming, and other multimedia content. These activities lead to extended periods of mobile web usage.

As mobile devices become more integral to people's lives and digital experiences, businesses and website owners must prioritize mobile optimization. Ensuring a seamless and engaging mobile experience is critical to capturing and retaining a significant share of web traffic. This trend is expected to continue, making mobile traffic a central focus for digital strategies across industries.


US Mobile Ad Spending by Format
US Mobile Ad Spending by Format

Above we see the increase in mobile users correlate with the increase in online spending, specifically in Banners, rich media, search, and video. These are the promising areas where consumers are spending a lot of their time nowadays, google searching on websites, social media, and listening to music - again thinking of smartphone applications.


So although it's all on the internet, it's worth knowing what people are consuming it with, so we can target the right channel and ad campaign to best suit.


And they are all coming online now, all over the world, with a lot of first access to the internet now driven by mobile. And just by looking around in say Asia or Africa, you will find an explosion of mobile internet usage, even in the deeper village regions. Mass market and beyond within the network of internet connectivity.

In the chart below, we can see that when compared to other traditional mediums, Digital advertising spend is on the increase, with newspapers taking a big hit. This trend would of course correlate to where the traffic is gravitating to.

Distribution of Advertising Spending in the United States
Distribution of Advertising Spending in the United States

Some solid reasons below why businesses have increasingly built confidence in Digital Marketing

Top Benefits of Online vs Offline Ad Spending
Top Benefits of Online vs Offline Ad Spending

Online and offline advertising each have their unique advantages. The choice between the two often depends on your target audience, budget, and specific marketing goals. Here are some of the top benefits of online and offline advertising:


Online Advertising:

  1. Wider Reach: Online advertising allows you to reach a global or highly specific audience. You can target users based on demographics, interests, and online behavior.

  2. Cost-Effective: Digital ads can be more cost-effective than traditional media, particularly for small businesses. You can set budgets, and many digital marketing channels offer pay-per-click (PPC) options, ensuring you only pay when users engage with your ad.

  3. Instant Results: Online ads can deliver immediate results. You can see how your campaigns are performing in real-time and make adjustments as needed.

  4. Measurable Analytics: Online advertising offers detailed analytics and metrics. You can track clicks, impressions, conversions, and user behavior, allowing for data-driven decision-making and optimization.

  5. Ad Flexibility: You can easily adjust your online ad campaigns. If something isn't working, you can modify it quickly without the long lead times associated with offline advertising.

  6. Highly Targeted: Online ads can be hyper-targeted to reach a specific audience. This ensures that your message reaches the people most likely to convert.

  7. Interactivity: Digital ads can be interactive and engaging. You can incorporate video, animation, and interactive elements to captivate your audience.

Offline Advertising:

  1. Tangible Presence: Offline ads provide a tangible presence. Print ads, billboards, and brochures offer a physical touchpoint for your audience.

  2. Local Engagement: Some offline advertising methods, such as billboards, are excellent for targeting local audiences. They help build brand recognition within a specific geographic area.

  3. Trust and Credibility: Traditional forms of advertising, such as print and TV, are often associated with trust and credibility. People may be more inclined to trust ads they see in reputable publications or on television.

  4. Less Competition: As businesses increasingly focus on online advertising, there's less competition for offline advertising spaces. This can be an advantage, especially for smaller businesses.

  5. Longer Shelf Life: Printed materials, like brochures and magazines, can have a longer shelf life, providing a more extended exposure period for your message.

  6. Brand Recognition: Consistent offline branding through billboards, radio ads, and print media can enhance brand recognition and recall among the audience.

  7. Targeted Demographics: Offline advertising can still reach specific demographics through publications or channels that cater to particular age groups or interests.

It's important to note that the most effective advertising strategies often involve a combination of online and offline methods, referred to as "omnichannel marketing." This approach leverages the strengths of both digital and traditional advertising to reach a broader audience and maximize the impact of your campaigns. The choice between online and offline advertising depends on your marketing objectives, target audience, and available resources.


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