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App Usage is Growing Faster than Mobile

January 16, 2015 Kathy Bryan

The average American spends almost 3 hours a day (2 hours and 42 minutes, to be precise) using mobile devices.

What are we doing on them? Almost everyone accesses email and texts at least once a day. About two-thirds of us are on the internet and/or social networks. Other tasks include getting news alerts, playing games, listening to music, reading, watching videos or movies and getting directions. But we’re not doing it all on one device. In fact, more than 60 percent of online adults in America use at least two devices every day, with a quarter of us using three devices or more. And 90 percent of adults who own multiple devices actually use more than one device to complete a single task.

There are 220 million smartphone users and 160 million app users in the U.S. Surprisingly, as much of 86 percent of time on mobile devices is spent using apps. In twelve months from March 2013 to March 2014, time spent on mobile devices was up 4 minutes while time spent on apps was up 12 minutes – three times more. For that reason, in January of 2014, mobile application usage passed desktop internet usage for the very first time.

The app market is incredibly fragmented and doesn’t behave in the same manner as the internet. The internet is all about openness, sharing and moving between websites. Conversely, apps are built with walls and are controlled by the owners of the app stores – Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, with varying levels of restrictions designed, in part, to address potential quality issues. In-app searching is quite different as well, and is a quickly growing practice with studies now saying that up to one-third of mobile users search first within apps.

Predictably, in-app ad spending is growing quickly – some say at a rate of 60 percent per year. If this pace continues, in-app advertising spend will surpass desktop advertising spend by 2017 – in just two years’ time. But the growth could be even more dramatic. Right now, in-app advertising options are limited, with only 40 percent of app developers providing for in-app ads. It’s fairly safe to assume more spend will result in more advertising opportunities, and even more advertising spend as a result.

Google and Facebook are the top app franchises, as you can easily see in the charts below. These two brands account for two-thirds of all mobile advertising spend, almost half of it with Google. But less than a quarter of total in-app time is spent with these two franchises. Although both of these networks allow for advertising placement in sites and apps not owned by either brand, this is an imbalance that will surely start to correct itself in 2015 as new advertising opportunities are created by vendors or discovered by more advertisers.

What should you be doing?

As marketers, we’ve become quite accustomed to change – after all, the only constant is change! No matter what is ahead, to stay effective in today’s fragmented digital marketplace, you need to accurately follow your target audience where they are no matter the device or channel they use. This ubiquitous reach will generate awareness for your brand and ensure your presence when they are ready to make the decision to discover more about what you offer.

The following steps will help keep you on the right track:

  1. Define your target audience accurately to understand the traits, media consumption patterns, device usage, geography and everything else you can learn about them.
  2. Build a diverse multi-channel, multi-device media plan that can reach and engage your audience throughout their journey across devices. Provide a consistent, relevant and personalized message that translates into a positive and convenient user experience.
  3. Track and measure everything – including every interaction within each channel and each stage.
  4. Analyze the data and adjust your plans accordingly to hit your target goals .

If you’d like to talk with someone about the steps detailed above and how you can put them to work for your brand, contact your DMS account executive or fill out this form to have us contact you

And in case you want to see the nitty gritty details, here are charts that detail how we spend our in-app time.


About the Author

Kathy Bryan

Kathy Bryan is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. In this role, Kathy is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications for DMS and its subsidiary brands. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into an award-winning, full-service performance marketing company demonstrating incredible year-over-year growth which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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