Mobile Apps Now Majority of Digital Time in The US

Mobile apps
Mobile applications have reached another threshold, according to comScore data. After exceeding the desktop web in share of digital time spent in January, mobile apps accounted for a majority 51% share of total digital consumption in May, per comScore’s figures. In fact, mobile web and apps together accounted for 60% share of digital media time spent in May, up from 50% share a year earlier.

Mobile apps

Mobile apps’ consumption disparity with the mobile web is so great that Flurry estimates that time spent with the Facebook app exceeds the entire mobile web.

Social networking is becoming more heavily mobile-centric, reveals comScore, with the data showing that 71% of social networking time is spent on mobile platforms. Indeed, comScore indicates that the primary Facebook app accounted for 18% of all mobile time, an estimate in line with Flurry’s figure of 17% share (limited to Android and iOS).

The figures released by comScore note that total mobile engagement on social media has increased by 55% during the past year. Given that social accounts for one-fifth of total digital time spent, the data suggests that mobile social networking represents about 1 in every 7 minutes spent online in the US. Another extrapolation of the data suggests that almost 1 in every 10 minutes spent online is with the Facebook app.

Social networking is not the category most heavily influenced by mobile, though. That distinction belongs to radio and photos, each of which sees 96% of consumption occurring on mobile devices.

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Mobile Time Now Exceeds Desktop Time [study]

Rising time spent with mobile applications over the past year means that Americans now spend more time on a monthly basis with apps than they do accessing the internet from desktops, says comScore in new data. That threshold was passed for the first time in January, per the data, when Americans spent 46.6% of their total internet time with mobile apps, compared to roughly 45.1% spent accessing the internet from a desktop and the remaining 8.3% using mobile browsers.

Mobile Web Time Now Exceeds Desktop Web Time
Mobile apps surpassed desktop in January on the back of a 9.3% month-over-month increase in total minutes spent. Desktop web access declined by 1.7% during that span, while total time spent accessing the web via mobile browsers slipped by 3.1%.

It’s possible that the data for February would show mobile app use slipping behind desktop use again – after all, it took a large month-over-month increase for app consumption to move ahead of desktops, and the numbers appear to fluctuate from one month to the next. But even if the results reverse over a month or two, the longer-term trends favor app use eventually exceeding desktop web consumption for good.

That’s because over the trailing 12 months, total minutes spent accessing the internet from desktops declined by roughly 3.5% (not a precipitous decline, to be sure), while time spent with mobile apps surged by 43.7%. Total minutes spent accessing the internet via mobile browsers, while small in comparison, also picked up steam, increasing by 41.4% between February 2013 and January 2014.

Both mobile app and mobile web consumption should be expected to continue to increase, given the trajectory of smartphone penetration in the US. Various research outlets are reporting that tablet ownership now exceeds 40% of American adults.

In other recent news from comScore, travel site categories accounted for 6 of the 10 fastest-rising categories in January, measured by month-over-month percentage change in unique visitors from desktops. Yahoo maintained its position as the top web property, with 192.1 million unique desktop visitors, continuing to edge Google (189.2 million). AddThis was the top syndicated ad focus entity with 97.2% reach among online Americans, while Google Ad Network was the top ad/buy-side network (94.5% reach) and Rubicon Project retained the lead among DSP/SSP/Ad Exchange entities with 96% reach.

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Tablets To Lead Mobile Advertising In 2014

A new report predicts that tablets will emerge as the primary platform for mobile ad revenue in the next two years as a result of their larger screen and the more immersive media experience. The Yankee Group study forecasts that tablets will account for 53% of mobile ad dollars in 2014 compared to 47% for mobile handsets. By 2016, tablets’ share of mobile ad sales will rise to 60%.

Ads within mobile applications in particular will help to drive growth.

Yankee Group found that 24%of tablet owners clicked on ads while using apps, and 29% purchased extra content. “Although the stats show impressive levels of engagement, only a handful of players have mined this revenue opportunity,” stated the report, pointing to the gains of social gaming companies.

The study indicated tablets outperform smartphones across advertising, direct payments and in-app commerce. For example, tablet owners on average buy 1.7 paid apps per month compared to 1.1 for smartphone users. And 35% of tablet owners purchase digital media from online stores versus 21% on the smartphone side.

Reports Monday that Amazon plans to come out with several new tablet models in a range of sizes underscore the promise that major retail players see in using the devices to enhance sales.

News and information apps account for about 15% of tablet app downloads, while shopping and banking apps make up about 20%, boosting m-commerce. “Shopping apps are taking advantage of the larger screens and concentrated use associated with tablets,” noted the report. “Fashion brands are also ahead of the pack. Tablet-friendly commerce features used by luxury brands and retailers include virtual store tours and magazines with branded content.”

Video has also gained traction on tablets, with almost two-thirds of users watching video at least once a week, up from 48% last year. The key for traditional content owners is to think small in mobile. That means relying on revenue from micropayments and advertising (rather than subscriptions) and focusing on low-cost development, since mobile offerings will have shorter shelf lives.

“Publishers should make content easy to access through proprietary and third-party-owned apps. In TV, partnerships with mobile specialists are an efficient way for production divisions to rethink programming,” according to the report authored by Yankee Group.

Advertisers should plan tablet-specific campaigns to take advantage of the format. Rather than simply repurposing TV ads, they should create new spots suited to the short sessions on tablets. Marketers should also use insights gleaned from app and social media use to improve engagement with a brand or service. -Mark Walsh, MediaPost

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