• Media Consumption & Trends

All Mobile is Not the Same

Richard Thomas
3 min read
Posted on October 02, 2019

If you’re thinking about mobile as a homogenous environment, then think again.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s no such thing as mobile consumers, just consumers. As mobile becomes the most prevalent and the most personal screen in our lives, mobile is less one more screen in our lives but rather the core screen present whenever we’re doing anything.

But, it’s important to note that mobile isn’t just one thing, but actually two: mobile web and mobile apps.

Understanding the Differences Between Mobile Web and Mobile Apps

According to eMarketer, Americans will spend a whopping three hours and 43 minutes every day on average with their mobile devices this year. But, in 2019, only around 26 minutes is spent using a mobile web browser; in comparison, adults in the U.S. spend close to three hours a day using apps.

What people do in mobile web is different than what people do in apps as well. While almost two-thirds of all time spent using mobile browsers is devoted to audio, social media and video are more likely to be accessed via apps, eMarketer has found. In fact, this year people will spend close to 100 minutes a day just browsing social media, watching videos and playing games.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is in relation to habit. People often turn to mobile browsers for meeting their one-time needs; after all, if you’re visiting a site multiple times a day or week, then you’re more likely to download the app to gain a better user experience.

The news is a great example of this dynamic in action. If you just want the day’s headlines once in a while, then a quick web search will probably suit your needs. But, if you wanted to read the news multiple times a day, you’re likely going to download at least one news app.

This dynamic occurs even in industries with high-cost transactions like travel. While someone looking to book one flight a year will turn to a browser, frequent fliers like business travelers will appreciate the ease of an app.

These are far from the only examples too. In any industry, if there’s a repeat need, then there’s an app for that.

What These Differences Mean for Marketers

When thinking about mobile web, it’s essentially an extension of desktop, where you’re using the same vendors, third-party trackers and many times the same targeting such as contextual targeting.

When you’re looking at in-app, it’s extremely different. There’s different vendors, there’s different brand filters and there’s also different targeting. When you think about targeting in app, it’s actually very unique. You’re able to use SDK integrations, for example, which are much stronger than browser cookies.

Rather than using a whitelist or an app list that’s been provided to you by a client, utilize mobile’s unique attributes to your advantage. Through mobile, brands can deliver the right message to the most relevant and wanting audience.

Consumers are becoming more attached to their phones. So, how can you maximize on where these users are? First, use more advanced targeting capabilities that in-app has to offer. As I mentioned before, there are SDK integrations, which allow you to understand user behavior by understanding what apps they are using on their phones.

Ultimately, it’s critical to understand how, where and when people use apps over browsers. While mobile web is often used for one-time, transactional needs like to look up a fact, apps are leveraged repeatedly. Both mobile web and mobile apps should be a key part of a marketer’s arsenal, but each one needs its own strategy and tactics since how people use each one is so different.

So how can marketers use mobile apps in particular to better understand, identify, engage and acquire the right consumers? Stay tuned for my next blog post to find out.

Interested in Learning More About the Mobile-First Nature of Today’s Consumers?

Be sure to check out these resources for additional insights:

About the Author

Richard Thomas is the Head of Brand Marketing, North America at InMobi. He has over 15 years of experience working with some of the world's largest B2B and B2C brands. Richard's advertising and marketing career has been spent building brands by telling their stories across integrated campaigns.

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