Where Mobile Internet Time is Spent and What it Means For Your Business

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

sms-worldEarlier this year research from Flurry showed that 80 percent of the time spent on mobile devices is spent on apps. At first blush, this may have seemed like one of those banal factoids that are quickly forgotten, but there’s more to it. The research that forms the foundation of the 80 percent figure tells marketers much about how people use their mobile devices, and how they can better direct their campaigns tell take advantage of Web 3.0. This post will examine this research on mobile internet usage in closer detail and explain how small business owners can use it to their advantage.

The first thing that marketers need to understand is that the research isn’t suggesting that people run out and start hiring app developers. While it does show that apps in general are popular, it’s important to remember that a few very popular apps make up large portions of the 80 percent total. For example, 18 percent of mobile internet time is spent using the Facebook app with an additional 6 percent going to other social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Games also make up a sizeable portion. While no one particular game is popular to merit particular attention, as a group they account for more than one third of the time spent on mobile devices. This means that 62 percent of the time spent on apps is spent on apps that most business wouldn’t be competing against. However, it does give clues to good tactics for marketing to audiences on mobile devices.

The fact that 18 percent of mobile internet time is spent on the Facebook app is reason enough for business owners to consider social media marketing. Keeping an up-to-date social media page gives small businesses access to the nearly one quarter of mobile internet time spent on social media apps. This information also reminds marketers to make their social media campaigns social-media friendly. For example, the Facebook app can’t look at the apps on a page, so any fan-gated content would be unavailable to mobile users who are using the app. This applies equally to the third-party apps used for most contests. While many of the major apps like Wildfire and OfferPop compensate for this in various ways, it is definitely something to consider when starting a social media campaign.

The overwhelming penetration of games on mobile devices is also useful for marketers. Many of the most populars games on iOS and Android are free-to-play games that make money through advertisements. It doesn’t have to be small banner ads either. Mobile ads are now featuring full video commercials between rounds or full size ads that fill the mobile device’s screen. The data suggests that the strategy is working. Over the past year, Google’s Click Through Rate (CTR) for smartphones has hovered around 3 to 4 percent. The CTR for smartphones is nearly double the rate Google sees for desktops and overall, mobile accounted for nearly a third of of Google’s Cost Per Click (CPC) for the third quarter of 2013. Interestingly, since many marketers aren’t yet sold of mobile advertising, it’s cheaper to bid for CPC on mobile, which means it’s actually more effect and cost efficient to advertise on mobile.

Though it may seem like the lion’s share of mobile activity is on app, there is still good reason for small businesses to ensure their website is mobile compatible. The flip side of the data from Flurry is that 20 percent of mobile internet time is spent on mobile browsers. While apps are good for accessing certain kinds of information, there are a lot of topics where consumers still need to search the internet for answers. Web 3.0 has made mobile compatibility as important as SEO. It doesn’t matter if a page is the first listing on the search results page if the site won’t work for the mobile users who are increasingly dominating the global internet. Though this shouldn’t diminish the importance of SEO either; a mobile-compatible site is also useless if people can’t find it in a relevant search.

Enhancing the mobile compatibility of a website is a good start, but some businesses should really consider developing an app. Retailers, for example, should consider building an app because according to research released by Flurry at the beginning of the year, the time spent on mobile shopping apps increased 247 percent between December 2011 and December 2012. Clearly, retailers with a large enough selection and established clientele for it to be economically viable should consider building an app.

The mobile internet is continuing to grow at fantastic speeds and there is no reasons for businesses to ignore the potential or to think that it will subside. The research from Flurry shows that consumers act differently and use the internet differently when on their mobile devices. Marketers and small business owners can use this information to their advantage by using the  most appropriate tactic to reach their target audience.


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