Contrarian Finding: Survey Says More Time With Browser Than Apps

It’s well-established that apps are where users spend the lion’s share of their time on mobile devices — nearly 90 percent of it. Nielsen, comScore and others have documented this repeatedly. Yet, data from Burst Media contradicts that position and argues the mobile browser is where a plurality of users spend most of their time. The findings were […]

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It’s well-established that apps are where users spend the lion’s share of their time on mobile devices — nearly 90 percent of it. Nielsen, comScore and others have documented this repeatedly. Yet, data from Burst Media contradicts that position and argues the mobile browser is where a plurality of users spend most of their time.

The findings were published in a new report from Burst Media, based on a survey of “nearly 750 US online adults.” The survey asked where users spent their time on their smartphones and tablets. Here’s what it found:

  • All or most of time spent with mobile browser — 33.4 percent
  • All or most of time spent in apps — 15.8 percent
  • Time split equally — 26.1 percent
  • Not sure — 18.7 percent

Given that the data are from self-reported consumer perceptions there is reason to be skeptical of their accuracy. Nonetheless it provides an interesting counterpoint to the weight of evidence about where people spend time with mobile devices.

It’s undisputed that mobile browsers have greater reach vs. apps, but there hasn’t been a finding to my knowledge that shows the browser with more user time or engagement.

The survey also found some interesting gender-based differences in behavior. Burst says that majorities of both men and women spend “at least an hour of a typical day on their mobile devices” accessing the internet. However, men were more likely than women to say they spent less than 30 minutes per day — nearly 20 percent of men vs. just under 8 percent of women.

In addition, men said they were more likely to respond to ads in a browser vs. women who said they responded to in-app ads:

Overall, three- fifths (63.1 percent) of men clicked on mobile browser ads vs. 52.3 percent of women—figures that include respondents who say they rarely clicked (35.2 percent and 33.6 percent, respectively). However, 3-in-10 (27.9 percent) men and 18.7 percent of women say they frequently swiped or tapped on mobile browser ads.

Below are some additional findings from the survey:

  • A majority (54.4 percent) of respondents say smartphones are their go-to device, vs. 32.2 percent who say tablets.
  • Three-in-five (61.9 percent) primary tablet users vs. 54.1 percent of primary smartphone users have clicked on ads that appear within apps.
  • Among survey respondents, 50.4 percent of women and 37.1 percent of men have accessed coupons while in retail stores.
  • Nearly 3-in-5 (57.9 percent) women and 52.1 percent of men frequently watch videos on their devices via a mobile browser and/or app(s).


I’ve highlighted the most novel and interesting data from the Burst survey in the browser vs. app and gender findings. The full study can be downloaded here (pdf).


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About the author

Greg Sterling
Contributor
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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