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Brands take note: Social apps reign king in mobile apps

This Week’s Top Stories

November 9, 2015, 1:30 PM

Social apps lead mobile apps and are launching new ways to help brands connect with consumers.

A just-released report by digital measurement firm comScore Inc. finds Facebook, YouTube and Facebook Messenger rank as the top three most downloaded apps among U.S. adult smartphone app users. 76.2% of U.S adult smartphone app users have the Facebook app, 61.0% have the YouTube app and 60.9% have Facebook Messenger, comScore reports.

The report also analyzed which handset brands are most popular in the United States. Apple leads the way, accounting for 43.6% of smartphones in use as of September 2015, down slightly from 44.1% in June. Samsung ranks second with 27.6%, down from 28.1% in June and LG posted a slight increase, capturing 9.4% of the U.S. smartphone market, up from 8.3% in June.  The remaining 19.4% is a mix of other brands. When it comes to mobile operating platforms, Android ranks first with 52.3% of the mobile operating market, up from 51.6% in June. Apple iOS fell slightly, accounting for 43.6% compared with 44.1% and Microsoft ranked No. 3 with 2.9% of the mobile operating market, the same as June 2015. The remaining percentage is a mix of other brands.

ComScore in another study recently reported that 54% of the time consumers spend with digital media occurs within a mobile app.  It goes on to note that from June 2013 to June 2015 mobile app use was far and away the growth leader with time spent in apps growing 90% and contributing to 77% of the increase in time spent with digital media. Time spent in mobile browsers, meanwhile grew 53%, and laptop and desktop time grew 16%.

Here’s the breakdown of the time consumers spent with digital media in June 2015 from comScore:

  • Consumers spent 550,522 minutes with digital media on desktop and laptop PCs
  • 118,299 minutes in mobile web browsers
  • 778,954 minutes in mobile apps

However it is important for brands—from entertainment and hospitality, to CPG, to retailers and travel companies—to note that much of this app use is not spent with brands and retailers. In fact, in the most recent comScore study only one retailer, Amazon.com Inc., ranked in the Top 15 apps in terms of penetration, capturing 27.6% of the U.S. app audience.

A recent report from Forrester Research Inc. finds that while consumers spend 85% of their time on phones in apps, they spend the majority of that time on only five apps. It suggests borrowing what is calls “mobile moments” for the enormously popular apps like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (which ranks No. 9 in the comScore study in app penetration with 38.6% of app users having the Instagram app).

Brands can advertise and also create a robust presence in many of these apps that smartphone owners already visit frequently.

For example, to account for the rapidly evolving shopping landscape, Facebook has spent the past year developing tools and ad formats that let retailers market to shoppers throughout each step of the buying process—from discovering and researching a brand or product to completing a purchase, says Nicolas Franchet, the social network’s head of retail, e-commerce, global vertical marketing.

“We’ve been busy building more tools to help brands pivot to mobile,” he says. “We’re in a mobile-driven world. Consumers are looking to their mobile devices throughout every step of the buying process.”

Facebook has spent more than year testing various iterations of Buy buttons that let shoppers buy directly on the social network, a Shopping section on its app, as well a new ad system geared toward helping consumers browse retailers’ products.

Pinterest, meanwhile, says early results show that its Buyable Pins will drive new customers, incremental sales at no cost and higher mobile conversions for merchants.

Pinterest’s Buyable Pins pitch is simple: They make it easy for a shopper to buy on a smartphone by eliminating the need to click to a retailer’s site or app to complete a purchase.

Buyable Pins have a price tag indicating the cost of the item and appear in users’ home feed, category feeds, search results, recommendations, boards and The Pinterest Shop. Users can also search for Buyable Pins and can filter them by price. Once a shopper finds a pin she likes, she can scroll through multiple images, select size and color, click Buy It and pay with a credit card directly within the Pinterest app.

Sign up for a free subscription to Mobile Strategies 360, a newsletter reporting on how businesses in all industries use mobile technologies to communicate with and market and sell to their consumers. Mobile Strategies 360 is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes Internet Retailer, a business publication on e-retailing.

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