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Apps Eat Digital Media Time, With Top 3 Capturing 80 Percent
Time spent with digital is increasingly concentrated in a few hands.
Measurement firm comScore has published a new report on mobile usage and user behavior. The highest-level takeaway is that cross-platform usage is growing but there’s a divergence between reach and engagement. The desktop and mobile Web have greater reach, but a small number of apps command nearly all engagement.
As the chart below indicates, the desktop is not dead: usage has grown since 2013. But that growth is modest compared with mobile.
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.
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 characterizes it as “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
As has been widely reported before, Facebook is the top individual app by reach and engagement. Facebook has two of the top five US apps, but Google has three of the top five: YouTube, Search and Play. Google Maps is number six. App users users are highly selective for several reasons, including smartphone memory limitations and screen real estate. The report points out that it’s much easier to establish audiences on the desktop and mobile Web, but that app audiences are much more meaningful. “They spend 18x more time on apps than mobile Web visitors,” according to comScore.
One of the most striking findings in the report is that “half of all time spent on smartphone apps occurs on the individual’s single most used app.” And roughly 80 percent of smartphone app time is spent with users’ top three apps, notwithstanding the fact that people typically engage with 25 apps per month.
The obvious conclusion from these data is that digital media time is increasingly concentrated in a few powerful companies/apps with fairly radical implications. The bottom line for most brands, retailers and publishers is that the app needs to be the center of their media strategies; however, it’s increasingly challenging to acquire and retain app users.