Report: Almost 85 Percent Of Smartphone App Time Concentrated In Top Five Apps

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Mobile-advertisingDigital media time has really grown over the last two years, but what has been driving this growth?  In short, it’s been driven by mobile and apps in particular.  But it seems that the world apps is much smaller and more concentrated than the PC internet.

58 percent of amount of time consuming digital media is now spent in apps.  It’s no surprise to hear that the mobile we has a incredibly large audience, and is growing faster than apps are.  But according to comScore’s 2016 Mobile App Report, engagement is superficial.  Not only that, the desktop’s share of digital time has shrunk down to 33 percent.


The size of the mobile web audiences are three times as large as the aggregated app audience and growing twice as fast.  Even though this is a story of “reach” vs “engagement,”  The report points out that mobile web audiences tend to be tin and unreliable:

Mobile web audiences continue to climb, but the new audiences being reached are lightly engaged and bring down the average time spent figures. Much of this new traffic is drive-by social referral. While this traffic can help establish larger audience reach for mobile media properties, there may also be limits to the advertising opportunity it creates if users don’t return.

Basically, this means that marketers, retailers and brands shouldn’t simply be content with mobile web traffic.  The challenges of converting mobile web users to app downloads is a substantial, and isn’t going away, and is, in fact, getting more so.  Did you know that about half of all smartphone users downloading zero apps per month now.


Typically, when people download apps, it’s usually a few big ones, and once they’ve downloaded the ones they want, they’re done with all other apps.  It’s all about a few dominant companies, such as Google and Facebook.  In the report, Music, Social Media and Games represent almost half of all mobile app time.  Not only that, it’s getting tougher “to break through to the consumer’s screen”:

People aren’t downloading as many apps anymore, they increasingly put those apps into folders, and they are less likely to allow push notifications, making it harder than ever for apps to be seen. Breaking through means having the rare novel app idea or relying on traditional marketing and advertising for distribution.

45 percent of all smartphone users app time is spent on their top app, and an incredible 73 percent of their time in the top three apps on their device.  For tablet users, 87 percent of app time is spent on their top three.


It seems that, unless you’re a major player in mobile digital media, like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and the like, a bleak picture is being painted by the report.  Here’s a general summary by Greg Sterling about the findings and conclusions:

  • Media time is shifting to mobile
  • Most of mobile media time is spent in apps
  • App engagement is concentrated in a small number of dominant apps
  • It’s increasingly difficult for smaller publishers/brands to break through — even with downloaded apps — because of folders (being buried) and increasing resistance to push notifications.


The report has a great deal more data and can be downloaded here.

Source – Greg Sterling

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