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Study: Despite “Time Spent” Gap, Mobile Web Just As Important As Apps
Survey shows that marketers should not neglect the mobile web.
Almost 90 percent of mobile internet time is spent in apps. This finding has been independently published by comScore, Nielsen and other metrics firms. However according to an IAB sponsored Harris poll of roughly 2,000 adults last December, the consumer public sees its mobile usage split roughly equally between apps and the mobile web.
Source: comScore data via IAB
The IAB sought to explain this discrepancy in usage vs. perception, what it calls the “app gap,” and better understand the relationship between usage of mobile apps and the mobile web. The IAB also seems to be trying to boost industry and media perceptions of the mobile web, which has been partly marginalized by these time-spent figures.
In short the headline from these findings is: “only 18 percent of mobile internet users say their time spent skews strongly toward apps.” Accordingly the data argue that the public values the mobile web and apps nearly equally and so marketers and publishers should as well.
The survey found that those who prefer apps over the mobile web prefer them because:
- Mobile apps are more convenient
- Mobile apps are easier to use
- Mobile apps work when my phone’s not connected
- Mobile websites often don’t look good on my phone
- Some other reason
Conversely, those who prefer the mobile web to apps say:
- Don’t like spending money on apps
- Using a web browser is easier than using apps
- Disappointed by apps I’ve downloaded previously
- Don’t have free space on my phone Finding apps takes too much time
- Downloading apps takes too much time
- Don’t know how to download apps
- Some other reason
Here are a couple of the conclusions offered by the IAB:
For mobile internet users, ease and convenience help dictate a preference for apps AND mobile web browsing. These can nudge people toward either mode, depending on the task at hand.
Marketers should follow the lead of mobile consumers, and adopt a pragmatic attitude toward the two modes of mobile. Including both in media plans will help to maximize chances of achieving target reach and frequency goals for a campaign.
In this survey the respondent pool was split almost evenly between smartphone and non-smartphone mobile users, with 54 percent of respondents reporting smartphone ownership. However smartphone ownership, including OS and screen size, are important variables in this discussion. Many of the findings appear to discuss smartphone-only responses. However the breakdown between smartphone owners and conventional mobile users is not entirely clear in the report.
Regardless, as the IAB asserts, the mobile web is very important and should not be neglected. In many categories it has a much greater reach than apps. It’s often challenging and costly to get users to download apps. And poor app experiences can quickly lead to abandonment and churn.
Marketers need to develop high-quality mobile websites — as a primary matter. Apps are useful for loyal and frequent customers. Apps and the mobile web are by no means mutually exclusive. Of the two, apps are more expendable, although when done well they lead to higher engagement.