IAB Study: Consumer Mobile Usage is Roughly Split Between Apps and the Mobile Web
Recent reports from comScore and other analytics companies state that smartphone users spend more time in apps than they do browsing the mobile web. With many analytics firms reporting that mobile Internet usage largely gravitates towards apps, this has led many to conclude that apps are the only viable channel to reaching target audiences, and that the mobile web has diminished in importance.
Countering such findings, a new study released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) states that what appears to be time spent in apps may actually be “mobile web use in disguise.” The IAB recently released a new study called “Apps and Mobile Web: Understanding the Two Sides of the Mobile Coin,”. The study was the result of a survey conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of IAB (@iab) in December 2014.
In October 2014, comScore reported that 88% of consumer mobile Internet time is spent in apps, with 12% spent browsing the mobile web. However, IAB’s study indicates that only 18% of mobile Internet users “perceive their usage as skewing heavily toward apps”. More respondents (33%) said they spend equal amounts of time using apps and browsing mobile websites. [See Figure 1]
According to the study, this “fairly balanced outcome holds true across demographic groups”. The IAB study calls this discrepancy between perception and actual usage the “app gap”.
The majority of app time isn’t always focused on apps alone—sometimes it’s a combination of both mobile apps and mobile web usage. For instance, if smartphone users browsing their Facebook News Feed decide to click on a link that interests them, the mobile web will pop up. Technically, these smartphone users are still using the app, but they’re also browsing the mobile web.
In the survey, over half of respondents (52%) reported that they often use apps as a “portal” to mobile websites which contain the data they want to view. [See Figure 2] Over half of smartphone users said they click on links in mobile apps that then take them to mobile websites with articles they wish to read.
“Understanding the journey users take to get to mobile content is critical, and this study is just the beginning of our exploration into the topic,” said Anna Bager, Senior Vice President for Mobile and Video at IAB. “Marketers, agencies and publishers must be mindful of any entrance people may take into their mobile presence. Many consumers bypass the front door, taking a roundabout trip into the mobile web instead.”
The IAB study advises advertisers and media companies to realign their mobile strategies to account for the numerous pathways potential consumers could take to their mobile web content, which includes clicking on links in apps.
For more information about mobile apps and the mobile web, you may download the full IAB study here.
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