apps_commons_Sean_MacEnteeMuch has been written about mobile app, as opposed to mobile Web, use becoming the predominant means for mobile device users to access content and make use of the Internet. But new market research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and its Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence concludes that “what may look like app time may actually be mobile Web use in disguise.”

A comScore study found that “smartphone users spend more than 88 percent of their mobile time in the app environment,” IAB notes in a news release. But in its “Apps and Mobile Web: Understanding the Two Sides of the Mobile Coin” report IAB found that just 18 percent of smartphone owners using the mobile Internet “say they spend significantly more time using mobile apps than browsing mobile websites.” Over half (52 percent) “say they click links within apps that take them to content on mobile websites at least sometimes or more frequently. This means that while these users are technically operating within an app, they are also spending time on the mobile web.”

Mobile App Usage
When asked whether they preferred using the mobile web or a mobile app, survey participants responded as follows:

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  • Search – 42% prefer mobile web, 32% have no preference, 20% prefer apps;
  • Shopping – 28% prefer mobile web, 26% have no preference, 22% prefer apps;
  • News – 25% prefer mobile web, 31% have no preference, 25% prefer apps;
  • Local Directory – 25% prefer mobile web, 31% have no preference, 21% prefer apps.

A preference for mobile Web as opposed to mobile app use is particularly evident among affluent households with annual incomes of $100,000 or more, IAB notes.

In addition, IAB’s research report reveals that smartphone users employ a variety of ways when searching for sites to visit on the mobile Web:

  • 54% say search is a primary tool;
  • 29% say they discover websites through recommendations (via email, word-of-mouth, etc.);
  • 26% cite links in social media apps.

“Understanding the journey users take to get to mobile content is critical, and this study is just the beginning of our exploration into the topic,” Anna Bager, IAB senior vice president, Mobile and Video, was quoted as saying.

“Marketers, agencies and publishers must be mindful of any entrance people may take into their mobile presence. Many consumers bypass the front door, taking a roundabout trip into the mobile web instead.”

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