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Rates of increase in digital media consumption continue to slow, according to projections by eMarketer.

What it means: Because the number of hours in a day doesn't increase, media consumption becomes a zero-sum game. Per eMarketer, "increased time spent with one medium will tend to come at the expense of time spent with another." Slowing digital growth could mean users aren't ready to fully give up other mediums (radio, TV, print, etc.).

Expand chart

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

While time spent is expected to plateau, so is user adoption of new mediums and sources of information.

  • Apps: As comScore identified last year, we are now at or nearing "peak app" usage, meaning that most smartphone users download zero or only one new app per month.
  • Social media users and penetration: eMarketer's projected growth for social media users and global penetration has been steadily declining and is only set to increase by 5% by 2020, compared to the 12% year over year increases in 2014 and 2015.

On the business side, scaled marketing is also showing signs of stagnation:

  • Facebook newsfeed: Facebook CFO David Wehner said in 2016, they expect their Newsfeed ad load to hit saturation by the middle of this year, (which is why we're seeing such an emphasis on video advertising).
  • Banner ads: An increase in ad blockers globally suggests that the digital display ecosystem has become too intrusive and crowded. The latest estimates show advertisers spending more money on native campaigns than standard display for the first time ever. Next year, native is set to make up over 67% of digital ad spend.
  • Brand emojis: "2015 potentially saw an overload of poor emoji integrations that didn't add much value," said John Ohara, SVP at Giant Spoon to Digiday. "A lot of brands moved into the space too quickly, and ended up neither being true to their core brand identity nor adding to it in a meaningful way."

Why it matters: Because our media diet is becoming more saturated, all of the players in the ecosystem will have to work harder to produce better content and experiences to maintain our attention, whether that be via digital ads, social personalization algorithms, videos or articles.

Go deeper

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Vaccine shipment companies targeted by cyberattacks, IBM says

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A global phishing campaign has been trying to gain information from organizations working to ship coronavirus vaccines since September, IBM's cybersecurity arm said on Thursday.

Why it matters: Successfully distributing a COVID vaccine will already be challenging for the U.S. and other wealthy countries, especially to rural areas with less resources — while poorer countries are expected to have delayed access.

Fauci to meet with Biden transition for first time

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The government's top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci will stay on at the National Institutes of Health and plans to meet virtually with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team for the first time Thursday to discuss the coronavirus response, he told CBS News.

Why it matters: Fauci, widely viewed as one of the country's most trusted voices on the coronavirus, said it will be the first "substantive" conversation between he and Biden's team. He said he has not yet spoken with Biden directly, but has connected several times with incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy is here to stay

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.