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Nearly 85 percent of smartphone app time concentrated in top five apps — [report]
The comScore data present a relatively bleak picture of digital media landscape if you're not a dominant brand.
Over the past two years, digital media time has grown significantly but most of that has been driven by mobile and apps in particular. The world of apps, however, is much smaller and more concentrated than the PC internet.
Just under 60 percent of total digital media time is now spent in apps (58 percent). The mobile web has a much larger audience and is growing faster than apps, but engagement is superficial, according to comScore’s 2016 Mobile App Report. In addition, the desktop’s share of digital time is now down to 33 percent.
Mobile web audiences are nearly 3X as large as the aggregated app audience and growing 2X faster. So it’s a story of “reach” vs. “engagement.” The report points out that mobile web audiences tend to be thin and unreliable — a mile wide and an inch deep:
Mobile web audiences continue to climb, but the new audiences being reached are lightly engaged and bring down the average time spent figures. Much of this new traffic is drive-by social referral. While this traffic can help establish larger audience reach for mobile media properties, there may also be limits to the advertising opportunity it creates if users don’t return.
In other words, marketers, retailers and brands should not be content with mobile web traffic. The challenges of converting mobile web users to app downloads, however, is substantial and getting more so. Roughly half the smartphone audience downloads zero apps per month now.
The story of smartphone apps is the story of a few dominant companies, especially Google and Facebook. The report says that Social Networking, Music and Games represent nearly half of all mobile app time. It also points out that it’s getting harder “to break through to the consumer’s screen”:
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.
Nearly half (45 percent) of smartphone users’ app time is spent on their top app and 73 percent of their time is spent in the top three apps. Tablet users spend 87 percent of app time on their top three.
Overall the report presents a relatively bleak picture of the state of digital media, if you’re a publisher not named Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Amazon and a few others. Here is my summary of the findings and conclusions:
- Media time is shifting to mobile
- Most of mobile media time is spent in apps
- App engagement is concentrated in a small number of dominant apps
- It’s increasingly difficult for smaller publishers/brands to break through — even with downloaded apps — because of folders (being buried) and increasing resistance to push notifications.
Not in the report is any significant discussion of the implications for advertising models and publisher revenue, which are not good. But that’s another discussion.
The report has a great deal more data and can be downloaded here.