Media companies need to be where consumers are — on mobile apps and Web


The Guardian a few weeks back reported that Flurry, a mobile application analytics services firm, updated its 2013 five-year report  for 2014.

The report shows mobile applications still win out over Web-based sites: U.S. consumers spend two hours and 42 minutes per day on smartphones and tablets. And only 22 minutes of this is spent on the mobile Web – down from 31 minutes in March 2013.

This wasn’t surprising news – but the update did point out other interesting tidbits:

  • The average user still only opens about eight apps per day, up a few tenths from 2010, though the apps used vary.
  • There is massive churn in apps – the 2013 report showed 37% of the apps opened are the same ones the user had a year ago.
  • Only about 3% is spent on news apps (up from 2% in 2013).

The fact that consumers look to the app stores for content requires presence there – a fully native or a hybrid app might fit the bill. Both require deliberate development and a clear understanding of your needs and constraints.

The churn in apps, the small share held by news apps, and Facebook, Yahoo, and The New York Times’ recent efforts suggest there are opportunities – and a necessity –  to develop outside of the standard news app archetypes.

But, the primacy of apps doesn’t get us off the hook with mobile Web.

Nearly one-third of consumer time is spent on social messaging services.

  • 17% of consumer time is on Facebook, including Instagram.

  • Google, Twitter, and other social messaging services make up another 10%.

Take to heart Flurry’s statement: “[If we] consider the proportion of Facebook app usage that is within their Web view (aka browser), then we can assert that Facebook has become the most adopted browser in terms of consumer time spent.”  

Readers might not be flocking to our mobile sites directly, but Facebook and other social media continue to bring them in indirectly (and Facebook continues to tweak its algorithms to benefit quality content producers).

Maintain a strong social presence and clear strategy in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media, and watch for opportunities in emerging social services.

Media sites still must provide a quality mobile Web experience, as the mobile site will be rendered within the Facebook app or redirected from another social media. These apps generally provide superior user experience and design – the larger the delta in quality between your site and theirs, the more it works against you.

In closing, media organisations need to provide solid mobile applications discoverable in the various mobile app stores to meet consumer expectation. Additionally, pressures in the current environment are pushing us to innovate outside of already typical models.

And lastly, we still need to invest in great Web experiences … because of apps.

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