App Boom Driving Digital Media Usage

Thanks in large part to the mobile app boom, digital media usage time has exploded since 2013.

Over the past three years, in fact, total digital media time spent has grown 53%, according to comScore’s 2016 U.S. Mobile App report.

Yet growth across all platforms is beginning to slow. Indeed, the past year has seen healthy but weaker growth rates on mobile -- while desktop usage has actually declined by 11%, the research firm finds.

As such, mobile now represents almost two out of three digital media minutes, and mobile apps are approaching 60% of total digital time spent.

With desktop engagement finally in decline, it is now losing share to mobile at a rapid rate.

Not surprisingly, comScore attributes the “convenience of smartphones and tablet devices, and the innovation around mobile apps” for reshaping the digital media landscape in favor of mobile.

Smartphone apps have driven the overwhelming majority of growth in digital media usage over the past 3 years, the firm makes clear.



“While every component is contributing to digital’s massive growth in time spent over the past three years, it is the smartphone app that has been the biggest driver by far,” according to comScore’s latest report. “It has accounted for 80% of all growth in digital media engagement during that period of time.”

In fact, smartphone apps alone now account for nearly half of all digital media time, and three out of every four minutes on mobile in total.

What’s more, smartphone apps have become the primary access vehicle to the Web, representing half of total digital media time spent.

Of course, they already account for the vast majority of total mobile and mobile app time spent, but they are gaining share among every segment of the market.

To boot, smartphone app usage time is increasing among every age group in the past year and is highest among millennials.

Members of this prized demographic spend an “exorbitant” amount of time on their smartphone apps, and usage declines with age, according to comScore.

That said, every segment of the population is using their smartphone apps more over time, with 55-to-64-year-olds seeing the greatest year-over-year increase, with growth of 37%.

Unlike smartphones, tablets are seeing declines across all demos in app usage. This change is most likely the result of larger smartphone screens gaining favor among consumers, according to comScore.

Over the past year, tablet app usage was down across all demos -- but the most significant drop came among 35-to-44-year-olds.

“Interestingly, the most engaged tablet users are both the youngest and oldest segments of the population,” comScore notes. “18-24-year-olds make use of tablet apps for games, entertainment and school activities, while older users rely on tablets for news and reading.”

1 comment about "App Boom Driving Digital Media Usage".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 13, 2016 at 3:14 p.m.

    Gavin, I believe that it would be helpful to show the actual averages for time spent by millennials and other segments--if ComCsore will oblige---instead of simply discussing changes in percentages. For example, if mobile is experiencing "massive" growth in time spent are we talking about 30 minutes per day three years ago compared to 60 minutes now? At least with such figures the reader gets an idea of scale as well as the relative degree of growth.

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