Sorry, I can’t predict the future

2020 marketing predictions

Oh, crystal ball

Happy New Year everyone!

From apocalypse prophecies in ancient civilizations to stock market forecasts in modern societies, it’s human nature to attempt to predict the future. Predictions – whether based on religious beliefs, gut feelings, or rational analyses – all originate from our need to be in control and our fear of the unknown. According to studies in behavioral science, people are prone to making significant ones as they approach a new decade (in age or epoch). Marketing professionals are certainly no exception.

For example, a search for “2020 digital marketing predictions” already returns 50M+ results on Google. Just like many of my industry peers, I could also write a blog post on the topic. But let’s be honest, we are all clueless about the future (regardless of our level of expertise or methodology).

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

— Niels Bohr, Nobel laureate in Physics

Instead of nebulous prognostications, I prefer to focus on the now.

In this new blog post, you’ll get:

  • a comprehensive snapshot of the current digital landscape
  • 15 statistics and macro trends to inform your 2020 strategy
  • link to all sources for further usage in presentations/pitch decks

Right about now

What percentage of the world population is online?

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Global Internet usage 2020
According to estimates from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 53.6% of the global population, or 4.1 billion people, are now connected to the Internet. Sweden = 98%.

What percentage of online traffic is mobile?

What Percentage of Internet Traffic Is Mobile in 2020?
Based on data from StatCounter, mobile now accounts for more than half of web traffic worldwide (57.83%) compared to 1.56% in 2010! Sweden = 50.01%

How much time do people spend online on average?

How Much Time Do People Spend Online On Average?According to statistics presented by Statista, people spend on average 171 minutes (2 hours and 51 minutes) online per day in 2019 with a majority of this time spent on mobile devices.
Sweden = 5 hours and 56 minutes.

What’s the e-commerce share in global retail sales?

What is the global e-commerce share of retail sales?
In 2019, e-commerce sales represented 14.1% of all global retail sales. A share anticipated to reach 22% by 2023. Source: Statista

What are the most popular search engines in the world?

How dominant is Google?
Google currently holds a whopping 92.71% of the worldwide search engine market share. A position they’ve held for more than 10 years according to historical data provided by Stats Counter. With a tiny 2.32% market share, Bing is #2. But ironically, the most popular search term on Bing is “Google”

What are the most popular social media platforms?


How dominant is Facebook?

With 2.4 billion monthly active users, Facebook is still the most popular social media platform entering the 2020s. Source: Statista

What are the largest social media platforms?
This chart from Our World in Data shows the impressive rise of social media during the 2010s. Despite data privacy scandals and criticism, Facebook added almost an additional 2 billion active users since the movie The Social Network came out in 2010. Even if the tech giant was already leading the market back then, the social media landscape has been extremely dynamic and changed radically during the last decade. Social media communication, once essentially text-based, is now mostly ephemeral, private, and visual-driven.

What are the most popular websites?


Search, social, and porn win the Internet. Google and YouTube together generate more than 100B visits per month. Facebook and Instagram are far behind with “only” 27B monthly visitors combined.
Source: Similar Web
Data for the Swedish market available here

What are the most popular apps?


According to data from Apptopia, WhatsApp (quietly) was the most downloaded app worldwide across all stores and categories in 2019. Yet, we mostly heard about TikTok for the whole year.


App Annie looked back at the most downloaded apps of the decade. It goes without saying that Facebook completely crushed the mobile space, owning the four most downloaded apps all-time!

Who is the most popular personality online?


In 2009, the actor Ashton Kutcher entered the Guinness World Records book as the first person ever to amass 1M Twitter followers. A huge feat then! Today, the most followed personality online is Cristiano Ronaldo with more than 400M fans across platforms (196M on Instagram alone). He currently earns more from Instagram than he does from playing professional soccer as reported by Statista. Impressive! But influence is not only a matter of reach but also trust and engagement. Now armed with the same tools as any celebrity (basically a smartphone and a social media account) anyone can be an influencer – even teachers or police officers (article in Swedish).

What’s the share of digital in global media ad spending?

Global Digital Ad Spending 2020
In 2019, for the first time, digital accounted for more than half of the global ad market. A share that will continue to increase in the years to come according to estimates presented by eMarketer.

Where is digital ad spending going?


The Google-Facebook duopoly captures more than half of the global digital ad market. Google is still the largest digital ad platform in 2019, accounting for 31.1% of worldwide ad spending (eMarketer)

How much do digital ads cost?

Podcast ads generally cost more than 2x the average CPM of any other digital platform. But “podcast hosts typically read their own ads, and are often true fans of the product — they share personal stories instead of reciting brand talking points.” (TechCrunch)

What is the carbon footprint of the Internet?



Very few people realize it but the global Information & Communication Technology (ICT) industry has a large environmental impact. So large in fact, that its carbon footprint is on a par with the entire aviation industry’s emissions. Although tech HQs and their data centers don’t spread out black smoke, they require an insane amount of electricity to function. Around 10% of the world’s total electricity consumption is being used by the Internet, a number projected to double by 2030, according to research led by Anders Andrae, a sustainability expert based in Sweden. (Source: Nature)

Simple, yet complex

I can’t predict the future but one thing is certain: it’s never been easier to go online whether it’s to look for information, communicate, or shop.

The 2010s were marked by the rise of mobile and social. The platforms leading this transition reached scale and near-monopolies market share. Many even describe the 2010s as the decade of ‘growth at all costs’.

We enter the 2020s with major challenges to tackle such as climate change, diversity, and privacy. Thankfully, we can all contribute for this decade to be remembered as one promoting sustainability and positive-sum growth.

It’s never been easier to go online. But navigating the ever-changing and subtle nuances of the digital world as a business is more complex than it used to be. If you need advice or just a second opinion on your digital strategy, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Wishing you all a successful year!

— Erwan


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