Facebook- and Google-owned apps scored the first eight positions on Nielsen’s 2016 top ten list of apps with the most average monthly users, TechCrunch reports, providing yet another bit of evidence that we live in a digital media world dominated by two parties:
- Facebook had three apps on the list. The main Facebook app came in first yet again, with more than 146 million average unique monthly users, up 14% from 2015. Messenger came in second with 129 million monthly uniques, and Instagram in eighth, with the latter seeing runaway user growth at 36% over last year.
- Google put numbers on the board. YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, and Gmail occupied positions 3 to 7, respectively, on Nielsen’s list. Most of these apps are utility apps, with the exception of YouTube and (to a lesser extent) Google Play, indicating that this is a category where Google excels.
- Apple and Amazon topped off the list. Apple Music was in ninth place, and its 20% year-on-year user growth is testament to the app’s surging popularity, especially with Spotify remaining unranked on Nielsen’s list. More impressive, however, is the Amazon App’s 10th place finish and staggering 43% user growth since 2015, reflecting the rising consumption pattern of mobile shopping.
Facebook and Google’s dominance on Nielsen’s list reinforces the notion of a digital duopoly. Each of these companies thrives in separate categories. Facebook in the social category, and Google predominantly with utility apps, and in media with YouTube and Google Play. The absence of a third contestant in the social media arena is palpable with no Twitter or Snapchat in sight, but Apple and Amazon provide hope for greater competition against Facebook and Google’s supremacy.
Mobile-app makers and content creators are vying for consumer attention in a crowded and noisy market.
Even if an app can stand out enough to prompt a consumer to download it from among a list of millions, it then faces the challenge of enticing him or her to use it enough times to recuperate development, maintenance, and marketing costs. To make matters worse, those marketing costs have hit record-high levels over the past year as discoverability has become more challenging.
And while consumers are spending more time in apps, most of that time is spent in a few favorites. Consumers spend almost three-quarters of their total smartphone app time in just their three favorite apps, according to comScore.
But it’s not all doom and gloom: There are numerous tools at a publisher’s disposal to engage and re-engage consumers, and there are new products and solutions coming to market that can help alleviate some of the issues around this app engagement crisis.
Jessica Smith, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on app engagement that explores the current state of the app market, the issues around engaging consumers, and the tools at a publisher’s disposal. It also identifies best practices for the implementation of some app engagement tools, and presents the pitfalls that some publishers fall into in this pursuit.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- The app market today is challenging and volatile. It’s difficult to stand out, and most apps have to be offered for free in order to entice consumers who have too much supply to choose from. This puts greater emphasis on engaging consumers after they’ve downloaded an app in order to recoup costs.
- Consumers are more difficult to engage today, as most have dozens of apps installed on their devices yet spend most of their time in just a select handful of favorites.
- There are numerous solutions at hand for mobile app publishers and content creators seeking to engage consumers. Push notifications, in-app messaging, and app message centers with badges are three tools publishers can use to engage consumers.
- While many publishers mistakenly rely solely on push notifications for app engagements, this is a poor practice because many consumers don’t allow push notifications and those that do can easily be overwhelmed when they receive too many.
- The best solution often includes leveraging two or three of these tools to engage consumers with the right message at the right time. The technology in this market has grown increasingly sophisticated, and publishers that don’t diversify their approach run the risk of annoying their consumers to the point of abandonment.
- There are emerging engagement technologies that will change the current app engagement norms and present new ways for app publishers to communicate with users. The mobile ecosystem is changing quickly as technology improves and consumers become more comfortable conducting more activities on mobile devices.
In full, the report:
- Identifies the major challenges in today’s app market and explains why employing good app engagement practices is more important than ever before.
- Presents the major app engagement tools currently available.
- Examines the pros and cons of each app engagement tool while outlining some pitfalls that publishers encounter in implementing them.
- Prescribes best practices for adopting various app engagement tools or strategies.
- Assesses how the market will likely change over the next five years as emerging technologies change both consumer behavior with mobile devices and introduce new tools with which to engage consumers.
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