What’s Ahead for 2017? Our Predictions for Next Year’s Trends in Ecommerce, Apps, and More

The digital world is no longer just mobile-first – it’s rapidly evolving towards an increasingly cross-device standard, with consumers moving seamlessly across PCs and a variety of mobile devices over the course of their day. Verto Analytics data shows that in 2016, the average U.S. adult consumer owns five devices. In addition, almost 40% of of these consumers use smartphones, tablets, and PCs concurrently. These numbers are set to rise over the next 14 months as cross-device behavior becomes a mass-market phenomenon.

With this in mind, Verto Analytics analyzed our own cross-device data to identify three big digital consumer trends we’ll see in 2017, and how they’ll impact brands, advertisers, marketers, and more. For the full list of 2017 predictions, click here to download a copy of our report, 2017: The year of the multi-screen consumer.

Three Major Digital Consumer Trends

Trend 1: Mobile device ownership diversifies and reach will expand.

While mobile usage is increasing around the world, the PC market has nearly reached saturation in key markets, such as the U.S. and UK. Verto Analytics data reveals that smartphones have overtaken PCs as the most prevalent household device over the past two years. Over the past year, the American and British user base of digital devices grew for each device category except for PCs (and gaming consoles in the UK).

And although the smartphone market is also approaching saturation, we’re seeing increased diversification in mobile device ownership, especially in the U.S. The American tablets and wearables sectors showed especially strong growth over a six-month period in the past year. We anticipate that

  1. the number of active tablets in the U.S. will exceed the number of active desktop PCs by Q1 2017, and
  2. the wearables market will continue to grow by 30-50% over the next 12 months.

Click here to download a full copy of the report, 2017: The year of the multi-screen consumer.

We’re also seeing an increase in mobile reach in the U.S. as users spent an increasing amount of time on mobile devices compared to PCs. Verto Analytics data shows that 15-30% of today’s total online universe in the U.S. and EU access the internet only on mobile devices, and we expect this to grow to 20-40% over the next two to three years.

Moreover, on an hour-by-hour basis, desktop web reaches about 10-15% of the total online user base during daytime, but with mobile devices added to the mix, as many as 40-55% of the total online universe can be reached any given hour.
The mobile-first effect will be felt even more in key Asian markets and developing economies, where the significance of mobile-centric audiences is even stronger – India alone is home to nearly 300 million smartphone owners (among adults, ages 18+).

Trend #2: Social media apps will change the way users interact with brands and services.

We continue to see volatility in the apps marketplace: only 5%-15% of app downloads lead to users who continue to actively use the app 30 days after download. And of those, just 10%-20% can be monetized over time via in-app purchasing.

However, users are continuing to spend a massive amount of time in apps, led by mobile gaming and especially by social networking: the average American adult spends nearly 70 hours per month on social networking apps.

Click here to download a full copy of the report, 2017: The year of the multi-screen consumer.

Advertisers, brands, and publishers have noticed: for the first time, they’re spending more money on mobile advertising than on desktop display ads. In 2016, social media platforms, from Facebook to Kik, have rolled out integrations and platforms that try to connect users with their favorite brands and services.

Led by these examples, Verto Analytics predicts that, in 2017, social media apps will drive the mass market adoption of services like mobile payments, car-hailing, and chatbots, following trends that we have already seen in China and Japan. And while social media platforms with huge installed user bases are a natural gateway for this activity, user engagement metrics will matter more than reach in 2017. We’ll keep our eyes on platforms like Kik and Snapchat, which have a fraction of Facebook Messenger’s user base but far higher engagement statistics.

Trend #3: Regional ecommerce players will rise in 2017

One market category that truly exemplifies the cross-device trend is ecommerce. Verto Analytics analysis of consumer activity on major retail sites such as eBay underscore how pervasive this behavior has become – in the next year, we’ll see a rise in browsing as well as purchasing behaviors that take place across multiple devices. While the mobile payments sector has historically been dominated by PayPal and more recent offerings from major commercial banks, new offerings from e-tailers and brick-and-mortar stores – from Kohl’s to Walmart – will vie for some of PayPal’s 56+ million monthly customers.

And while ecommerce apps suffer from the same low retention rates seen across the app industry at large – Amazon’s high-ranking flagship app only retains 20% of its users after 30 days, while many other apps see retention numbers closer to 10% – regional players are gaining traction in local markets. India’s Flipkart currently ranks among the top 10 most popular apps in India (surpassing Amazon), and in 2017, we predict that ecommerce apps from India and other key Asian markets will try to establish a foothold in the global landscape.

Interested in learning more about what’s in store for 2017? Click here to download a full copy of the report, 2017: The year of the multi-screen consumer.