No clear winner in mobile Web vs. native app contest

By Sarah Riley


Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


Last month, INMA offered news publishers a glimpse at a collaborative and interconnected future on the Microsoft campus in Seattle. At the INMA Mobile Strategies Conference, publishers dove deeply into the digital disruption and what consumer attention’s shift to mobile devices means to their business.

As a mobile launch partner for numerous media companies, we at MindSea were there to show some best practices. Specifically, our CEO, Bill Wilson, gave a talk that (hopefully) clarified a few misnomers and misunderstandings about where publishers’ focus should be: on native apps or on mobile Web?

The audience on mobile Web is three times larger than that on native apps.
The audience on mobile Web is three times larger than that on native apps.

In one of the conference’s highest-rated presentations, Bill explored this question, which has been asked since mobile apps first appeared.

The answer has never been clear.

He presented some ComScore data that shows 62% of all our digital time is now spent on mobile — and mobile Web has the lion’s share of that audience at roughly three times larger than the audience scrolling inside native apps.

But something the data also showed is that app users spend a lot more time engaged than users on mobile Web — roughly 18 times longer. While mobile Web has the larger audience, native apps have a much more loyal one.

In the face of a huge distracted Web audience and a smaller, highly engaged app audience, Bill suggests that, since the mobile Web audience is so large and continues to outpace mobile app growth, publishers need to make sure their Web sites work well on mobile devices.

To put this in perspective, publishers should think of their mobile Web sites as the top of the funnel for acquiring users on mobile.

If you have successfully built an audience on mobile Web, native apps allow you to deepen the relationship with your readers and provide them with more value and utility.

So in the mobile Web versus native apps contest, who comes out on top? The answer is neither; given the numbers, Bill asserts publishers need to be on mobile Web, but to drive deeper engagement, they should be building a bridge between both mobile and native experiences.

The takeaway? Build it great on the Web and build an audience. Then engage them with native apps to increase utility, engagement, and enjoyment, and reward loyalty.

Have a look through Bill’s presentation here.

About Sarah Riley

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