App Store And Google Play Dominate App Sourcing

According to a new Marketing Charts staff report, American adults are spending 53% more time with digital media than they were three years ago, says comScore’s 2016 US Mobile App Report, but how they access the internet has changed markedly over that time frame, says the report.

The Marketing Charts report, utilizing data from TUNE, goes on to say that mobile apps’ influence on digital media continues to grow stronger each year, quoting TUNE to better understand the drivers of app download decisions.

A majority of the more than 3,000 smartphone owners surveyed by TUNE, said that they first saw the last few apps they installed in the App Store or on Google Play, and no other source of discovery came close, pointing to the importance of app store optimization. Social media figures prominently due to the growing presence of app install ads on these platforms.

Where People Discover The Apps They Install


% of Respondents

App store or Google Play


Social media app or site


Web search (mobile or desktop)


Mobile ad in app or mobile web


Other ads (TV, desktop, billboard, etc)


Messaging app




Data Source: Tune, December 2016

The single largest factor in app install behavior, says the report, is the desire to accomplish a specific task, cited by 37% of the TUNE survey respondents. And, close to one-third of respondents say that app installs are based on friends’ recommendations.

The results indicate, says Tune, that teens (13-17) are the most influenced by advertising messages, apps being featured by Google or Apple, and friend recommendations. Older adults (45-54) are the most likely to install apps based on search results, while older Millennials (25-34) are the most task-focused. Finally, the 55-64 bracket is the most apt to have downloaded an app due to already being a customer of the brand.

Why People Install Apps

Reason for choice

% of Respondents

Specific task


Friends recommendation


Ad for app looked interesting


Featured by Apple or Google


Customer of company


Data Source: Tune, December 2016

In its survey, TUNE evaluated 7 factors that smartphone users would consider important when evaluating an app for download from the App Store or Google Play. The data shows that ratings and reviews edge app descriptions as the element most important to inciting app installs, says the report. In fact, ratings and reviews were overwhelmingly the most frequently-cited “most important” element.

On a weighted basis, says the report, app descriptions averaged the highest ranking (2.81), slightly ahead of app ratings and reviews (2.88).

TUNE’s analyst suggests that “ratings and reviews continue to be the top item mobile users value, but app descriptions are the new linchpin determining whether people install your app or pass it over for another one.”

The second-tier of influencers are videos showing the app in action, with a weighted average rank of 4.11. In fact, more than 1 in 10 respondents rated videos the most important element when making app download decisions. Following videos in importance, says the report, are screenshots (4.23), demonstrating that users want to know as much as they can about the app before downloading it.

On a demographic basis, the report shows that:

  • Ratings and reviews are considered more important by women than men, and influence a disproportionately large share of middle-aged smartphone owners (as opposed to younger or older ones)
  • App videos and screenshots are particularly influential for youth and men
  • The app maker is considered far more important by older mobile users than their younger counterparts.

What Users Care Most About When Making Download Decisions


% of Respondents

Important Element




App ratings and reviews




App description




App video




App title




App maker




App screenshots




App icon




Data Source: Tune, December 2016

Finally, TUNE’s analysis shows that ratings are weakly correlated with rank, but reviews are strongly correlated. The research finds that roughly three-quarters of survey respondents reporting having downloaded at least a single mobile app in the prior month, says the report. The majority overall said they downloaded between one and three apps, while about one-fifth downloaded at least four.

Number of Mobile App Installed Last Month

Apps Installed

% of Respondents









10 or more


Data Source: Tune, December 2016


A sizable share of these downloads may have been simply to compare and evaluate apps, concludes the report. Slightly more than two-thirds of the smartphone users surveyed said that, at least sometimes, they install multiple apps that do similar things to try them out, before keeping the one that they like. This is a common activity for more than one-fifth of respondents, who do this often, usually, or always.

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