Mobile Browser has the reach, Apps have the engagement. So, who’s winning?


Last month, comScore released its Mobile App Report (see this amazing article by Marketing Land). The report contained many interesting findings, but its big takeaway was this:

There’s a divergence between reach and engagement.

  • The desktop and mobile Web have much greater audience.
  • Consumers spend the majority of their mobile time with a very few heavily used apps.

As the chart below indicates, the desktop is not dead: usage has grown since 2013. But that growth is modest compared with mobile.
comscore Mobile apps report

Sixty-two percent of all digital media time is now mobile, and the majority of that is in apps, which recently surpassed TV. By contrast, time spent on the desktop has plummeted to 38 percent from 49 percent since 2013.

comscore Mobile apps report

What’s interesting here is the concentration of time in apps (nearly 90 percent of mobile time) compared with their more limited audience size. The mobile Web has a much larger audience, though one that’s much less engaged.

comscore Mobile apps report

Morgan Stanley recently presented its additional findings in a research note that plays up mobile browser usage.

Characterizing the browser as the ultimate mobile app, the firm cites its own research and comScore data for the proposition that “US mobile browser audiences are 2X larger than app audiences across the top 50 mobile web properties and have grown 1.2X faster over the past 3 years.”

Mobile web vs. app traffic for top 50 mobile properties

mobile web vs. app traffic

Source: Morgan Stanley rendering of comScore data

The research note is designed to combat the perception that the mobile Web is anemic or in decline (and by extension, Google). It’s not. As the data show, mobile browser usage is growing faster than apps and delivering larger audiences for most publishers.

Morgan Stanley points out that only 12 of the top 50 mobile properties have more traffic coming from apps than the browser. The discussion argues for the primacy of the mobile browser for most publishers, brands and marketers.

As a practical matter, Morgan Stanley is absolutely correct. Most publishers will see the bulk of their traffic from mobile browser usage and not apps. The reason isn’t because the browser is somehow superior or that the “open internet must win.” The browser drives more traffic because consumers are highly selective about apps.

Mobile app traffic exceeds the browser in only a few cases

Mobile traffic apps vs. mobile web

Source: Morgan Stanley, comScore

Because of smartphone memory constraints and the mediocre quality of most apps, users are only going to download and engage with a small fraction of the apps on the market. For example, I may have one or two retailer apps on my phone (e.g., Amazon), though I shop at many more stores. My choices are tied to frequency and loyalty; I’m not going to download 10 different retail apps. Instead, I’ll use search and the browser to find information from retailers I’m more casually invested in.

Unable to deliver compelling experiences and disappointed by a lack of traction, many retailers have turned away from apps and toward the mobile Web. It’s also becoming more costly to acquire app users who may quickly churn anyway. (Here the positions of Google and Facebook are reversed, with Google positioning itself as the lower-cost alternative for app-install ads.)

It’s important to be clear that mobile apps aren’t appropriate for every merchant or marketer. The apps vs. mobile browser discussion is really about audience segmentation and user behavior patterns. As a crude generalization, the browser is for more casual audiences and apps are for more frequent and loyal customers.

I think this apps vs. browser argument is so charged partly because it’s a surrogate for Apple’s and Google’s competing visions for the mobile internet. These dueling positions have zealous detractors and partisans.

Putting aside “ideology,” marketers need to have a clear view of what approach makes the most sense for them based on a realistic understanding of the customer and her behavior and usage patterns.

It’s time to end the browser vs. apps “or” debate; it’s really about “and”.

[Source: Marketing Land]

How to to Send Google Map Directions from Desktop to Your iPhone


Google Maps Updated to Send Directions from Desktop to Your iPhone

If you tend to look for locations on your desktop more often than your phone, Google’s rolled out a handy feature for iOS that lets you send location searches from the desktop version of Google Maps to your iPhone in a click.

Once enabled, you can instantly send any location from your desktop computer to your iOS device as long as they’re signed into the same account by clicking on the “Send to Device” button on the desktop version after searching for a location. To use the feature, you’ll need to enable it on your iOS device first:

  1. Open up Google Maps on iOS and make sure you’re logged into your Google account
  2. Tap the Settings menu and open up Settings
  3. Tap Notifications
  4. Make sure the “Sent from desktop maps” option is enabled and notifications are enabled for Google Maps

With that, you should see the “Send to Device” option in Google Maps on your desktop. If not, try logging out and logging back in again. The same feature’s been in Android since April.

[Source: LifeHacker]

Social is more important than Search, bigger than most TV networks and deeply interconnected with Mobile

Although it is still relatively new as far as media entities go, BuzzFeed has become one of the leading new-media players, thanks in large part to its command of the social web, an ability to craft viral content and a large fan base among millennials. True to form, the company has created a visually-rich index of factsabout its size and reach — numbers which help explain how it was able to raise $50 million in a recent financing round.

As a caveat, it’s worth noting that the presentation is clearly designed to be a sales pitch for the company’s native advertising efforts, and so there are no links to or discussion of any of the data used to compile the charts. Most of the figures come courtesy of the site’s Google Analytics data, or from firms like Nielsen and comScore.

One of the core principles behind BuzzFeed is that social sharing is more important than search, so it’s no surprise that the main driver of traffic (which is estimated to be about 150 million unique visitors per month) is social — in fact, the company says that its social traffic is five times larger than its search traffic.

Search vs. Social2

Although social has grown to become one of the leading sources of traffic to most web content, the advertising industry still hasn’t quite caught up to this development, as shown by a BuzzFeed graph courtesy of eMarketer and Shareaholic — which says that social accounts for 30 percent of referral traffic but only 14 percent of advertising budgets.

Search vs. social

The other major shift in content consumption is mobile, and according to BuzzFeed the two are interconnected, in the sense that a majority of the site’s social traffic comes from mobile, and its share rates on mobile are twice as high as they are from its desktop users.

Mobile and social

BuzzFeed said mobile also accounts for a rapidly growing amount of video consumption, including 50 percent of all the video that the site produces, and this is particularly the case among millennial users. As a result of its focus on that market, BuzzFeed says that its reach is larger than several leading TV networks, including Fox, CNN and MTV — and among millennials it is larger still, putting the site ahead of most of the major networks, including NBC.

BuzzFeed reach

Obviously, BuzzFeed’s statistics are designed to promote its advertising appeal. And as with any form of web measurement, the sources it has chosen have their flaws — Google Analytics has a tendency to over-estimate certain kinds of traffic, while Nielsen and comScore have a tendency to under-estimate other kinds, including traffic from corporate networks (and BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has said one of his secret weapons is the “bored at work” network).

Some of the conclusions suggested by the BuzzFeed numbers are also debatable: for example, some media analysts argue that social is not as good as search — even if the raw traffic number is larger — because search is a better indicator of purchasing intent. As for video views, TV insiders would no doubt argue that their viewership is more loyal than someone watching a viral video on their mobile device.

Those caveats aside, however, the numbers BuzzFeed is generating are still quite impressive for what is still a relatively young company.

[Source: GigaOM and BuzzFeed]

Retail is the Fastest Growing Usage Category on Smartphones in Italy

The latest insights from our comScore Mobile Advisor Study show that the Total Italy Mobile Universe accounted for 48,000,000 users in the three-month average ending November 2013. Smartphone users represent 64.1 percent of the total Italian mobile audience, an increase of 23.5 percent from the previous year.

Mobile commerce is already playing a major role in online retail in Italy. These are some of the key findings:

  • Usage of retail apps and sites showed the strongest year-over-year increase of 74.8 percent, followed by the Health category with 66.6% growth. The e-payments and money transfer category came third with 65.2 percent growth and over 2 Million additional users over the last year.
  • Financial and retail / m-commerce related services belong to the most popular usage categories accessed by Italian smartphone owners. Online retail sites and apps were visited by 23.8 percent of smartphone owners, followed closely by shopping and price guides (22.6 percent).
  • Accessing electronic payments or money transfer services on smartphones has also been popular, with 21.7 percent of Italian smartphone owners using those services in November 2013.

If you would like to access to the full report contact us


[Source: ComScore]

App Annie Index: 2013 Retrospective – Mobile Top Trends of 2013


App Annie reviews 2013’s top mobile app industry findings, ranging from major country moves to social messaging apps evolution to platforms.

2013 was a milestone year for mobile apps and app stores alike, setting the stage for exciting new opportunities in 2014. Over the last year we saw many new trends including significant growth in emerging markets, a dramatic shift in game spending on mobile and the global expansion of social messaging platforms. In this App Annie Annual Index, we will uncover a variety of trends and insights to guide you in making smart business decisions.

Specifically, this App Annie Index 2013 Retrospective report recaps the top headline trends of 2013 with insights to the top-growing countries, categories, app stores, and more. The report shows the causes of this growth, giving you insights into the trends and markets you can’t ignore for the upcoming year.

Mobile flexes its revenue-generating muscle for games, outperforming handhelds on both iOS App Store and Google Play for most of 2013.

Some key insights from this 2013 Retrospective report include:

  • US, South Korea, and Japan are leaders in app store revenue, however BRIC countries and 5 other regions outpaced these superpowers in download and revenue growth.

  • Gamers worldwide are increasingly favoring their iPhones and Androids over 3DS’s and Vitas. Both iOS App Store and Google Play experienced a surge in app store game revenue, vaulting them ahead of handhelds in 2013 for the first time ever.

  • Freemium as a business model continued to be massively successful for a range of app categories in 2013, with games seeing the most money. Developers were able to find creative ways to incentivize in-app purchases by consumers.

  • Messaging apps transitioned into social messaging platforms, diversifying not only their product offerings, but also their revenue streams. Moving beyond their home countries, they added e-commerce, books and music capabilities.

Screenshot 2014-01-30 18.10.45

[Source: App Annie]

The Average Smartphone User Has Installed 26 Apps

The average smartphone user in South Korea has downloaded 40 apps — the highest number in the world and well above the global average of 26 downloads.

South Korean smartphone users pay for just 2.7 of their 40 downloaded apps on average, which is way fewer than global leader Japan, where smartphone users pay for 17.5 apps, and below the global average of 5.6 paid apps.

Statista created this chart, using data from Google’s Our Mobile Planet, which ranks the top 10 countries where smartphone users download the most apps.


How many apps have you downloaded on your phone? Let us know in the comments how you compare to the average smartphone user.

Click here to see more statistics from Statista on “Mobile App Usage

[Source: Statista]

App Cost Evolution: iPhone users pay average of 19 cents per app, Android users pay just 6 cents

Many consumer surveys point to an obvious conclusion: most people hate seeing ads on smartphones and tablets. But the truth is, contrary to the desire for an ad-free experience, when faced with the choice between free apps with ads, or paying even $.99 for apps without ads, consumers overwhelmingly choose the free apps and tolerate the ads.

In this post we explore that revealed preference for free content over content free of ads by examining four years worth of pricing information for the nearly 350,000 apps that use Flurry Analytics.

Our Apps Tell A Story

Each time we download an app, we reveal a little bit about ourselves. A glance at the apps on your phone can indicate whether you are a fan of sports, gaming, or public radio, and whether you love to hike or cook or travel. But our choices of apps also reveal our individual tolerance for advertising, and how we feel about the trade-off between paying for content directly, or paying indirectly by (implicitly) agreeing to view ads.

In many cases, apps are available in two forms: free (with ads) and paid (no ads). If you truly can’t stand to see ads in apps, you can usually pay $.99 or $1.99 to eliminate the ads and possibly get some additional functionality too. Even when a specific app does not come in paid and free versions, there are often other apps to choose from, free and paid, that perform very similar tasks like calling a taxi or looking up recipes.

So what are consumers choosing? Let’s start by considering iOS apps since they have been available for longer than Android apps. Note that all of our measurements in this post are weighted by user numbers so the apps with more users contribute more to the total trend.

People Want Content To Be Free

The chart below shows how the proportion of free versus paid apps has changed over the years in the App Store. Between 2010 and 2012 the percentage of apps using Flurry Analytics that were free varied between 80% and 84%, but by 2013, 90% of apps in use were free.

Chart 1 resized 600

Some might argue that this supports the idea that “content wants to be free”. We don’t see it quite that way. Instead, we simply see this as the outcome of consumer choice: people want free content more than they want to avoid ads or to have the absolute highest quality content possible. This is a collective choice that could have played out differently and could still in particular contexts (e.g., enterprise apps or highly specialized apps such as those tracking medical or financial information).

Android Users Are Even Less Willing to Pay For Apps

Up until now, we have focused on iOS apps because they have been around longer, but what about Android? Conventional wisdom (backed by a variety of non-Flurry surveys) is that Android users tend to be less affluent and less willing to pay for things than iOS users. Does the app pricing data support that theory? Resoundingly.

As of April 2013, the average price paid for Android apps (including those where the price was free) was significantly less than for iPhone and iPad apps as shown below. This suggests that Android owners want app content to be free even more than iOS device users, implying that Android users are more tolerant of in-app advertising to subsidize the cost of developing apps.

chart 2 resized 600

These results also support another belief derived from surveys and some transaction data: iPad users tend to be bigger spenders than owners of other devices, including iPhone. On average, the price of iPad apps in use in April of this year was more than 2.5 times that of iPhone apps and more than 8 times that of Android apps. This is likely to be at least partly attributable to the fact that on average iPad owners have higher incomes than owners of other devices.

Developers’ Pricing Decisions Were Data-Driven

On the surface, the rise of free apps could be seen as herding behavior: maybe app developers saw how much free competition there was and decided to make their apps free too. It’s certainly possible that may have happened in some instances, but by digging deeper into app pricing patterns over time, we were able to see that many developers took a much more thoughtful approach to pricing.

We looked at historical iOS app data (again because iOS apps have a longer history) to identify apps that have been the subjects of pricing experiments. That typically took the form of A/B testing, where an app was one price for a period of time then the price was raised or lowered for a period of time, then raised or lowered again. This lets developers assess users’ willingness to pay (i.e., price elasticity of demand) based on the number of downloads at different price points.

The chart below shows the percentage of tested and untested apps that were free (again, weighted by user numbers). The vast majority of untested apps in green were free all along, so it’s most interesting to look at the trend among apps that were subject to pricing experiments, in blue. As shown, there was an upward trend in the proportion of price-tested apps that went from paid to free. This implies that many of the developers who ran pricing experiments concluded that charging even $.99 significantly reduced demand for their apps.

PricingExperiments FA2

The People Have Spoken; It’s Time To Change The Conversation.

While consumers may not like in-app advertising, their behavior makes it clear that they are willing to accept it in exchange for free content, just as we have in radio, TV and online for decades. In light of that, it seems that the conversation about whether apps should have ads is largely over. Developers of some specialized apps may be able to monetize through paid downloads, and game apps sometimes generate significant revenue through in-app purchases, but since consumers are unwilling to pay for most apps, and most app developers need to make money somehow, it seems clear that ads in apps are a sure thing for the foreseeable future. Given that, we believe it’s time to shift the conversation away from whether there should be ads in apps at all, and instead determine how to make ads in apps as interesting and relevant as possible for consumers, and as efficient and effective as possible for advertisers and developers.

[Source: Flurry]