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Mobile apps responsible for 80pc of digital media growth: report

Mobile applications are responsible for 80 percent of digital growth and while they take up a massive chunk of all time spent on mobile, a report from comScore suggests that app marketers will have to work harder to cut through to the consumers they want to reach.

According to the report, mobile represents two out of every three minutes spent on digital media in the U.S. If brands and marketers want to capture that huge amount of time consumers spend on mobile devices, they will have a lot to compete with.

“The app market is definitely tightening, and app publishers need to rethink how to break through to the consumer’s screen,” said Adam Lella, senior marketing insights analyst and one of the primary authors of the report. “People aren’t downloading as many apps anymore, they increasingly put those apps into folders, and they are less likely to allow push notifications, making it harder than ever for apps to be seen.

“Breaking through means having the rare novel app idea or relying on traditional marketing and advertising for distribution.”

App attack
The growth that digital media time has seen over the past few years can be attributed primarily to mobile apps, ComScore writes. That increase even accounts for the decrease in time spent on desktop, which has increasingly given way to mobile.

Overall, mobile apps are responsible for 80 percent of the growth in the last three years, compared to eight percent for the mobile Web and three percent for desktops.

“The high usage of smartphone apps compared to other media touchpoints shouldn’t come as much of a shock when you think about your daily online behavior,” Mr. Lella said. “Chances are when you want to know what’s happening around the world, or in pop culture, or in your friends’ lives, your first move is to reach into your pocket and open one of the number of different social apps on your phone.

“And unless you already happen to be sitting at a computer, a smartphone app is probably your first option when you decide to listen to music, get directions to a destination, check the weather or catch up on email. The convenience factor is simply too powerful.”

In fact, mobile apps account for half of all digital media time spent in the U.S. ComScore projects they will continue to grow in shares thanks to their ubiquity.

“You almost always have your smartphone on you, and apps allow you to immediately access a service in one simple tap of the screen,” Mr. Lella said. “As smartphone screens have gotten larger and as 4G LTE networks enable faster speeds, there becomes even less of a reason to use other platforms such as desktop or tablets, save for specific tasks.”

A cut above
That increase in mobile app time is music to the ears of retailers who make use of them. A recent report by Criteo found that retailers with sophisticated apps saw an increase in app transactions from last year (see story).

In fact, smartphone users prefer to use retailer specific apps rather than the mobile Web or third-party apps, including mobile payment apps such as Apple Pay (see story).

But with the increase in time spent in-app comes a surge in the amount of apps users have available to them. Publishers, marketers and brands who want to capitalize on the mobile app surge need to make sure their apps can rise above the rest.

“Digital publishers must have a well-developed platform strategy for converting their large mobile Web audiences into highly engaged, loyal app users,” Mr. Lella said. “Mobile Web is the primary vehicle for expanding audience reach, but apps are where heavy engagement happens.

“Publishers must get better at onboarding mobile Web visitors to the app, and get their apps promoted to the home screen if they want to maximize usage.”