What’s Up with Apps These Days?

Results from comScore’s latest annual U.S. Mobile App Report point to some interesting user behaviors.

No one needs to be reminded of how important mobile apps have become in today’s world of communications. Just looking around any crowd of people, it’s clear that usage has become well-nigh ubiquitous.

And now, we have some new stats that help quantify what’s happening, courtesy of the most recent annual Mobile App Report published by global media measurement and analytics firm comScore.

Among the salient findings from this report:

  • Today, mobile devices represent two of every three minutes spent on digital media.
  • Smartphone apps alone account for nearly half of all digital media time spent – and three of every four minutes spent while on mobile.
  • Over the past three years, total time spent on digital media has grown by over 50%. Most all of that growth has been because of mobile apps.
  • Indeed, time spent on desktop media has actually dropped by more than 10%.

Despite the rapid rise of mobile app usage, there are a few findings in the comScore report that point toward some consolidation of the market, with certain apps being the recipient of strong brand loyalties.

Typically, while smartphone users have uploaded many apps on their devices – and may use several dozens of them on a monthly basis – nine out of every ten mobile app minutes are spent with just five top apps.

[Good luck to any app provider attempting to break into that rarefied group of top performers!]

At the same time, “push notification fatigue” appears to be a growing issue: More smartphone users are rejecting app update notifications than ever before.  According to comScore’s recent report, nearly 40% of users rarely or never agree to such update notifications – up significantly from around 30% last year.

Conversely, only about 25% often or always agree to updates, which is down from about one-third of users in last year’s survey.

This last set of figures doesn’t surprise me in the least. With so many apps housed on so many devices, one could easily spend an hour each day accessing nothing but app updates.

Especially considering how little additional functionality these ongoing updates actually deliver, the whole operation falls into the “life’s too short” category.

Where Print Advertising Still Reigns

city-and-regional-magazine-survey-2014-FOLIOPrint advertising may be atrophying, but it’s still important enough to be the overwhelming revenue stream for city and regional magazine publishers.

According to the latest annual survey of media in this category, conducted by FOLIO last month, most publishing titles continue to rely on print for the vast bulk of the revenues they generate.

But before we look at FOLIO’s figures today, let’s see what’s happened over the past decade or so.

Print advertising revenues in this segment of the publishing industry represented over 95% of overall revenue as late as 2005. It’s dropped since then – but it hasn’t declined all that much, all things considered.

Here’s what FOLIO’s research findings are showing today:

  • Print advertising: Represents ~75% of all revenues
  • Paid subscriptions: ~6%
  • Custom publishing: ~6%
  • Digital media: ~5%
  • Events: ~3%
  • Mobile products: ~1%
  • Mercantile data (e.g., list rental): Less than 1%

Compared to Folio’s 2013 survey, print advertising has declined slightly (from ~77% of overall revenues in 2013), but paid subscription revenues are down sharply (from about 10%).

Within this publication category, there are some differences between large and small publishers. Larger brands (those generating more than $5 million in revenues) rely less on print advertising; it’s only about 65% of their earnings.

With smaller publication titles, it’s been significantly more challenging to diversify away from print. They’re still relying on print ad sales to generate more than 80% of their revenue.  And that percentage hasn’t changed in five years.

Right now, digital media accounts for only about 9% of total revenues generated by the larger media properties in this segment. But managers at these publications anticipate that revenue from digital platforms will continue to grow at a faster clip.

In fact, they foresee a jump of nearly 30% in digital media revenues this year alone.

The FOLIO report notes that the increase in digital revenues is coming from better monetization strategies for existing products, rather than the introduction of new ones.

City and Regional MagazinesConsidering why publishers in the city and regional magazine category continue to rely on print versus other revenues, I think it goes back to the idea that consumers don’t consider these properties strong sources for “instant” or “breaking” news.

Behaviorally, there’s more of a propensity to browse through story topics in a more “linear” fashion. The emphasis on human interest and region-centric news also aligns more with a more traditional approach to journalism, where most every news story tends to have some sort of a “human” dimension.

Quite a few stories are long-form journalism, or ones that feature high-quality photography.  Far fewer of them are time-sensitive.  They lend themselves to a more leisurely perusal.

Even so, it would seem that broader trends regarding the way consumers are interacting with media — and the platforms they’re using to consumer them — destined to overtake the city/regional magazine category.


More details on the FOLIO research results can be found here.

The “App Gap”: Mobile Apps Overtake All Others in Digital Media Consumption

Mobile apps overtaking other digital media consumptionIt was bound to happen.

The bulk of time Americans are spending on digital media … is now happening on mobile applications.

According to data released this past week by Internet and digital analytics firm comScore, the combined time that people expend using digital media breaks down as follows:

  • Mobile apps: ~52% of all time spent online
  • Mobile web surfing: ~8%
  • Desktop: ~40%

Apps are clearly in the driver’s seat – particularly in the mobile realm.  In fact, comScore estimates that apps account for 7 out of every 8 minutes spent on mobile devices.

On smartphones, the app usage is ~88% of all time spent, whereas on tablets, it’s ~82%.

This doesn’t mean that app usage is spread evenly throughout the population of people who are online.  Far from it.  Only about one-third of people download one app per month or more.  (The average smartphone user is downloading about three apps per month.)

The inevitable conclusion:  App usage is highly concentrated among a subset of the population.

Indeed, the 7% most active smartphone owners account for almost half of all the download activity during any given month.

But even if most users aren’t downloading all that many apps … they are certainly engaged with the ones they do have on their devices:  comScore reports that nearly 60% are using apps every day.

Here again, the data show that usage levels are much higher among smartphone users than they are with tablet users (where only about one quarter of the people use apps daily).

Where they’re spending their time is also interesting.  Well over 40% of all app time spent on smartphones is with a user’s single most used app.  (Facebook takes top honors — of course.)

And if you combine social networking, games and Internet radio, you’ve pretty much covered the waterfront when it comes to app usage.

When you think about it, none of this should come as much surprise.  We’re a mobile society – hourly, daily, monthly and yearly.  It only makes sense that most online time is going to be happening when people are away from their home or their desk, now that it’s so easy to be connected so easily from even the tiniest mobile devices.

And speaking of “easy” … is it really any wonder why people would flock to apps?  It’s less hassle to open up an app for news or information rather than searching individual sites via mobile.  People simply don’t have the patience for that anymore.

Where are Newspapers Now?

Newspaper ad revenues continue in the doldrums.John Barlow of Barlow Research Associates, Inc. reminds me that it’s been awhile since I blogged about the dire straits of America’s newspaper industry. The twin whammies of a major economic recession along with the rapidly changing ways Americans are getting their news have hammered advertising revenues and profits, leading to organizational restructuring, bankruptcies, and more.

But with the recession bottoming out (hopefully?), there was hope that the decline in newspaper ad revenues might be arrested as well.

Well, the latest industry survey doesn’t provide much cause for celebration. A poll of ~2,700 small and mid-size businesses conducted this summer by Portland, OR-based market research firm ITZBelden and the American Press Institute finds that ~23% of these businesses plan to cut back on newspaper advertising this year.

The kicker is that these revenues are being spent, but they’re being put to use in other advertising media.

The ITZBelden survey found that a similar ~23% of companies plan to up their 2010 digital ad spending anywhere from 10% to 30%. This compares to only about 10% planning to increase their print advertising by similar proportions.

Moreover, the survey findings reveal that small and mid-size U.S. businesses have moved into digital marketing in a significant way. Not only do more than 80% of them maintain web sites, they’re active in other areas, including:

 ~45% maintain a Facebook or MySpace page
 ~23% are engaged in online couponing
 ~13% are involved with Craigslist
 ~10% are listed on Yelp! or similar user-review sites

One area which is still just a relative blip on the screen is mobile advertising, in that fewer than 4% of the respondents reported activities in that advertising category.

Where are these advertisers planning to put their promotional funds going forward? While newspapers should continue to represent around one quarter of the expenditures, various digital media expenditures will account for ~13% of the activity, making this more important than direct mail, TV and Yellow Pages advertising.

There was one bright spot for newspapers in the survey, however. Respondents expressed a mixture of confusion and bewilderment about the constantly evolving array of digital marketing communications options opening up … and they’re looking for support from media experts to guide their plans and activities.

And where do they see this expert advice coming from? Newspaper ad reps.

Perhaps the Yellow Book’s “Beyond Yellow” small business advertising campaign – you know, the one that touts not only the Yellow Pages advertising but also web development, online advertising, search marketing and mobile advertising – is onto something.

Multimedia Centers: Migrating From the Family Room to the Garage

Automobile multimedia centersConverseon’s Craig Daitch, writing in Advertising Age magazine, is claiming that Ford Motor could be the next media company.

What does that mean?

It means this: Today, the most well-equipped media centers may well be the ones found in your car. What’s being featured in car showrooms are vehicles that contain everything from portals for laptops to smartphone-enabled screens … satellite-enabled geo-positioning systems … high-definition and/or satellite radio … even televisions.

The reality is, the home is no longer the exclusive domain of all of these collective media. The automobile is a multimedia hub as well, which means that any medium that was once reserved for in-home consumption can now be experienced in cars – on the go.

What are the implications for marketers? For one thing, merchants are now closer than ever to closing the gap between in-store and out-of-store marketing. Now, marketing messages can travel along with the target audience … right into the store parking lot. Messages reach their targets that much more effectively when cars are taking them directly to the point of purchase.

Sure, outdoor billboards and broadcast radio have played a role similar to this in the past, but never to the same degree as delivering an electronic coupon or alerting the consumer based on locational tracking.

Up to now, mobile media were limited to devices such as cellphones that could be unplugged and personally ported by users to different locations. Going forward, it’s the plugs that are mobile … and essentially any medium is now a mobile medium when it resides in a car.

It’s an intriguing twist that has vast implications on tactical marketing as we look to the future.

Facebook Continues on its Merry Way to Social Media (and Web?) Dominance

Here’s a very interesting finding ripped from today’s social media headlines: The Business Insider and other media outlets are reporting that Facebook now accounts for nearly one in four page views on the Internet in the United States.

So claims database marketing consulting firm Drake Direct, which has studied web traffic in the U.S. and the U.K. by analyzing data collected by Compete, a leading aggregator of web statistics.

Just to give you an idea of how significant Facebook’s results are: by comparison, search engine powerhouse Google accounts for only about one in twelve page views.

And Facebook is now closing in on Google when it comes to site visits – with each currently receiving around 2.5 billion visits per month. In fact, studying the trend lines, Drake Direct anticipates that Facebook site visits will surpass Google any time now.

Another interesting finding is that the length of the average Facebook visit now surpasses that of YouTube (~16 minutes versus ~14 minutes per visit), whereas YouTube had charted longer visits prior to now.

These findings underscore the continued success of Facebook as the most successful social media site, even as it has grown to 350+ million users, including more than 100 million in the U.S. with 5 million added in January alone. No doubt, it’s on a roll.