4 New Insights that All Mobile Advertisers Need to Know

This post is part two of our coverage of the Re!Think conference, hosted by the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation), where Verto Analytics presented: The Metrics of Mobile Advertising. If you missed part one of our coverage, read it here.

As a channel, mobile has evolved rapidly in a relatively short period of time. Specifically, I am thinking of the balance between the amount of time consumers spend on their mobile devices to the total time they spend on PCs: This shift has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Think about it this way. When iPhone was first introduced to the market, in 2008, mobile online time spent (apps plus web browser) was only 12% of total online time. In 2015, it reached 50% of all online time. Verto Analytics’ Content Watch data for 2016 is already projecting that mobile will capture more than 60% of total time spent online this year.

Advertising Dollars: Where’s the Investment in Mobile?

However, it’s still not easy for advertisers to quantify the relevance, significance or effectiveness of mobile. Instead, most of the buzz surrounding mobile are devoted to hot games and apps, new hardware emerging from Apple, and the Android ecosystem or the ever-complex, ad-tech industry, where almost each quarter new players are emerging every day.

This means that major advertising budgets continue to be funneled into “safe” choices: TV, radio, print and web. There are plenty of research and metrics available to measure ROI of these types of campaigns and over ad spending goes through fairly sophisticated models. But the equivalent type of measurement or validation data on mobile has been lacking. As we have noted in our research and industry coverage, mobile advertising continues to be driven by mobile app install ads. (Want to see data on this topic? Contact us and we’ll send it.)

At Verto Analytics, our passion is actionable mobile data. Every day, we help a growing number of customers take advantage of these trends in consumer mobile usage and make tactical, informed decisions based on mobile data. Here are four insights about the mobile ecosystem based on our intensive and proprietary research.

Insight #1: Smartphones and tablets are still the kings of mobile devices.

Many digital screens – Smart TVs, gaming consoles and streaming media devices – are now available. Each one has a sizeable user base in the US, reaching dozens of millions of users. Our data, however, shows that the number of people who use these types of devices to access online content or service is not that significant yet.

The number of consumers in the US who use these “even newer screens” for apps or browsing, range between 2-6 million currently – not that significant compared to 180-200 million US consumers who use smartphones or tablets to do the same monthly.

Insight #2: Mobile doesn’t necessarily mean “away from home.”

During my presentation at ARF, I pointed out that some of us are still clinging to old notions of what “mobile” means. True, we still carry smartphones and tablets with us when we leave the house. However, consumers also devote significant time and attention to their smartphones and tablets while they’re at home, where they compete with TVs and other home-entertainment devices for prime-time engagement.

With this in mind, the word “mobile” seems slightly misleading in certain contexts. Frequently we’re using tablets while we’re on the couch or in bed; therefore, we should be careful how we think about the word mobile in the future. And to widen our perspective even further, we should think about streaming media devices, wearables and virtual-reality kits in the same vein. Of course, we can carry these devices with us, and they run on mobile-centric operating systems like Android or iOS, but much of our usage of such devices will eat into the time we’ve traditionally spent watching TV, too.

Insight #3: Many consumers use multiple screens simultaneously.

As you can see from the chart above, based on Verto Content Watch data from December 2015, many consumers are in fact using both smartphones and tablets during peak prime-time hours of TV viewing and overlapping with PC usage. Our takeaway? During the day, the smartphone is the screen we look at most often when we’re on the move. However, during the evening hours, people are truly multi-screen, using multiple screens – traditional and new – in interesting new combinations and even simultaneously!

Insight #4: Website-based usage gave birth to Yahoo! and Google, but apps are the driving force of mobile and a lifeline for companies like Snapchat and Facebook.

It should also be noted that in mobile, it is apps, not sites (the mobile web), that drive usage. Our infographic above summarizes the elements are characterizing mobile usage in today’s US media world quite well.

Some key conclusions include:

  • U.S. consumers spent 10 billion hours accessing apps on their mobile devices during the month of December 2015
  • 86 percent of mobile users access apps every day
  • 680 mobile apps have over one million users each per month
  • There are 176 million mobile app users per month, and 160 million mobile users use apps on smartphones and 85 million use apps on tablets
  • Mobile users access an average of 25 different apps each month; 32 are accessed via a smartphone and 13 are accessed via a tablet each month
  • Average time spent on apps per user per day is two hours, 10 minutes (including device overlap); smartphone time spent on apps is 1:54 minutes and tablet time spent on apps is 1:28 minutes
  • Google and Facebook have the highest number of users, and the highest reach by a wide margin, with Apple and Amazon, ranked next on the list
  •  Over a third of all time spent on apps is spent on social media
  • In terms of session length, Netflix and Hulu rank highest on mobile, followed by Social Gaming Network and King
  • “Snack-able” apps: YouTube and WhatsApp are most widely used during the mid-day lunch hour while 6 pm is the “magic” shopping hour on eBay

Last but not least, we need to consider the app developers; they are the heart of the growing digital ecosystem as apps drive usage growth. Is their biggest challenge to building an excellent user interface? No. As we concluded based on Inmobi data at ARF, 43% of app developers claim marketing is the hardest part of the app business, and 42% say understanding app discovery is the most difficult portion of app marketing. These are the areas to focus on – and naturally we want to make sure that our measurement data provides help here!

There’s also some good news for the mobile advertising ecosystem, as we showcased with our data points at ARF. Altogether, 13,200 of the top 20,000 apps have a mobile app advertising SDK included, and this is growing for the benefit for marketers (and app publishers) today.

Interested in learning more about the metrics of mobile? Do not hesitate to contact us, and we will be happy to walk you through more of our research.