Keeping Up with Digital Consumer Behavior in 2018

Note: This post is an excerpt from our latest report, Consumer Behavior in 2018: Trends to Watch. Interested in learning more? Click here to download the full report.

How consumers engage with mobile devices — and the sites, services, and apps they use — is always changing. Multitasking and the consumer mobile journey are two ways we can look at how to engage with consumers across all their devices and throughout their digital day.

Multitasking Continues to Rise

Multitasking, a consumer behavior trend we originally defined in the spring of 2017, continues to grow: between July 2016 and July 2017, the daily number of consumers who engage with more than four apps per mobile device session has increased by 10 percent, from 121 million to 143 million adults in the U.S., and this behavior will only continue to increase (see chart below). According to Verto Analytics data, by January 2018, more than 149 million adult consumers in the U.S. are forecasted to engage in multitasking sessions, equalling 69.4% of the online U.S. adult population. As our earlier research revealed, understanding consumer multitasking can help brands, publishers, and agencies uncover the interaction and cooperative dynamics between apps — and the evolution of consumer in-app usage — to ultimately drive growth in user numbers, user engagement, and monetization or partnership potential.

Consumer Mobile Journeys: Which Apps Do Consumers Use Most Often?

And not only is multitasking on the rise, consumer mobile journeys — which apps consumers launch, and in which order — has also become a significant metric for advertisers and app publishers. Verto Analytics analyzed app user journeys based on mobile operating system (iOS versus Android) as well as by app category (i.e., what type of apps were used and in what order) to identify trends in consumer behavior across these parameters. Understanding these mobile journeys — and how they differ across demographics, operating systems, and other segments — can ultimately help brands, publishers, and agencies understand individual customers and offer new insights into how to craft improved engagement and user experiences with them in the future.

Consumer Mobile Journeys by App Category

As evidenced by the data in communication and social media apps dominate consumer mobile journeys: regardless of mobile operating system, nearly half (46%) of all smartphone device sessions begin with a communications or social media app immediately after Entertainment apps (such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify) and mobile games (like Words With Friends and Candy Crush) play an important yet non-central role in consumer mobile journeys: only about 5.5% of device sessions begin with an entertainment app as the first app in their mobile device session. Likewise, only 3.7% of device sessions begin with a mobile gaming app.

Consumer Journeys: iOS vs. Android

The mobile consumer journey — and especially which apps are used — is influenced by which mobile operating system a given consumer is using. While part of this is based on which apps are pre-installed on a given device, which varies depending on the original manufacturer (e.g., iOS devices arrive with Safari as the pre-installed web browser, whereas most Android phones are shipped with Chrome), Verto Analytics data reveals distinct preferences in mobile app journeys even with apps available on both mobile operating systems:

  • Web browsers are equally popular across mobile operating systems, accounting for 14.4% of the first apps or services opened during a mobile device session. However, Android supports multiple default browsers depending on the device manufacturer; therefore, Chrome has a smaller share of the browser market than Safari, which is universally installed as the default browser on iOS devices.
  • Social media apps play a dominant role in the consumer mobile journey on iOS devices: Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter seem more likely to be first apps opened during iOS device sessions than on Android device sessions. Meanwhile, mobile games and communications apps, such as Words With Friends and Gmail, have similar penetration rates on both platforms.

Interested in our biggest takeaways on consumer behavior in 2018? Download a full copy of our report, Consumer Behavior in 2018: Trends to Watch.