For those who stay on top of their ad industry headlines, it would seem there’s a lot to panic about these days. Apple has started blocking cookies in its latest version of Safari. Google’s upcoming version of Chrome will include a default ad blocker.
Yes, in an industry where keeping up with consumers seems an increasingly impossible task, it can be disheartening when major players, especially the largest tech behemoths, throw new advertising barriers into the mix. So let’s instead focus on a heartening fact: Consumers are already allocating their media time in ways that render Apple’s and Google’s recent moves — moves intended to improve consumer experiences on the internet, by the way — relatively insignificant for savvy advertisers.
U.S. consumers now spend five hours per day on mobile devices, and only 8% of that time is spent on a browser. The rest, i.e., 55 minutes of every hour, is spent in-app. That means that on the devices where consumers are spending the majority of their overall media time (i.e., their mobile devices), they’re spending the overwhelmingly vast majority of that time in an environment where cookies and ad blockers do not come into play.
That’s good news for advertisers. And so, unsurprisingly, just as ad dollars have followed consumers from the desktop to mobile devices, so too are dollars following consumers into in-app environments. In 2017, U.S. mobile in-app spending reached $45.26 billion, representing 77.5% of total U.S. mobile ad spending. This year, that figure is expected to climb to $56.47 billion, or 80.6% of all U.S. mobile spend. That’s not quite on par with the 92% of time share that mobile apps are receiving among U.S. consumers. But the smartest advertisers are already reaping the benefits of in-app advertising, and there’s a tremendous opportunity for others to get on board.
That’s not to say advertisers should abandon mobile web entirely. Mobile web advertising does broaden an advertiser’s potential audience. Also, thanks to responsive mobile design, the mobile web offers the ability to maintain just one version of an ad. That means mobile web advertising need not suck up a lot of money and time as it relates to creating ads in a wide variety of sizes and formats.
That said, given the amount of time consumers are spending in-app, it is well worth an advertiser’s time and effort to ensure their in-app advertising strategies are at the top of their game. For one, in-app advertising offers sophisticated data tracking, targeting, and geo-location capabilities that are increasingly being lost in desktop and mobile web advertising. Web advertising is largely beholden to cookies, which are increasingly being blocked by browsers. For those cookies that make it through, it’s useful to remember that many decay within 24 hours, and they are not opt-in.
Compare that to in-app environments, where active user identification is tied to the device ID of each mobile device. This enables true people-centric targeting, given the personal nature of mobile devices. Furthermore, most apps are opt-in, and device IDs last for an average of 21 months — yes, that’s about 630 times longer than your average cookie.
Widespread consumer obsession with apps means that marketers need not fear today’s doomsday headlines around cookie death and ad blockers. But they do need to invest serious time and effort into getting their arms around their in-app advertising strategies. Given the amount of time being spent by consumers in-app, and the enhanced tracking and targeting capabilities in these environments, it will be money well spent.