5 Charts Detailing the Influence of Mobile Apps on Digital Media Consumption

September 21, 2016

comscore-digital-media-consumption-trends-sept2016American adults are spending 53% more time with digital media than they were 3 years ago, according to comScore’s 2016 US Mobile App Report. But how they access the internet has changed markedly over that time frame, per the report’s findings. Below, 5 charts detailing the devices and platforms used to access the internet.

Changing Digital Media Consumption

As the above chart (click to enlarge) demonstrates, mobile apps have grown in recent years to eclipse desktops in digital media time spent, though growth is weakening on all fronts. Time spent with mobile apps, for example, has increased by 111% over the past 3 years, but on a year-over-year basis gained just 11%. The past-year increase in mobile web consumption was even smaller (5%), while desktop usage actually declined by 11%.

Share of Digital Time


As a result of those growth rates, mobile apps have become the dominant form of internet usage, while mobile devices overall now contribute two-thirds of all digital media time, up from about half 3 years ago.

Almost half (49%) of digital media time in June was spent solely in smartphone apps (with this figure reaching the 50% mark in July), up from one-third in June 2013. In fact, smartphone apps have contributed 80% of digital media consumption growth over the past 3 years, and smartphone apps now account for 85% of all mobile app time and 74% of all mobile media time.

Boomers Increase Smartphone App Time; Millennials Lead


Not surprisingly, Millennials spend the most time with apps, with 18-24-year-old app visitors averaging more than 93 hours per month with them in June. But the fastest year-over-year growth belongs to the 55-64-year-old bracket, which grew its monthly app time by 37% over the past year.

This bracket actually spends the most time on tablet apps, with the average tablet app visitor in the bracket spending 28 hours per month with apps, slightly edging the 18-24 set (27.6 hours per month).

Smartphone Apps Drive A Majority of Digital Media Time for Everyone Under 45


While adults aged 65 and older remain quite desktop-heavy (58% of all digital media time), smartphone apps have taken precedence among all age groups under 45. As expected, there’s a clear age trend at play, with smartphone apps contributing the highest share (62%) of digital media time for the youngest age group (18-24). Interestingly, there’s an opposite trend with tablets, which account for a growing share of digital media time among older groups.

And while smartphone apps may not have reached majority status among older age groups yet, mobile devices still contribute almost two-thirds of overall digital time for the 45-54 (63%) and 55-64 (65%) age groups.

Mobile Web Audiences Larger; Mobile App Audiences More Engaged


The top 1000 digital media properties’ audiences have increased by 36% over the past 2 years, per the report, driven entirely by mobile growth (+81%). Mobile audience growth is more the result of mobile web properties (+82% over the past 2 years) than mobile app properties (+45%), though the report cautions that “mobile web audiences… tend to be a mile wide and an inch deep.”

Indeed, while the top 1000 mobile web properties boast an average monthly unique visitor count 3 times higher than the top 1000 mobile apps, those apps enjoy 20 times more monthly minutes per visitor than the mobile web properties.

There are now 587 mobile web properties that reach at least 5 million unique visitors per month, up 36% from last year. While the number of mobile apps reaching that many unique visitors has also grown (to 133), the year-over-year growth rate has been much smaller, at 7%.

Finally, the number of desktop web properties with at least 5 million monthly uniques has decreased by 8% year-over-year, to 288.

Other Highlights

Separate results from comScore’s wide-ranging report indicate that:

  • About 1 in 8 smartphone users download at least 5 apps per month, with these “heavy app downloaders” over-indexing among 18-44-year-olds, males, and Hispanics;
  • 7 in 10 smartphone users put their most-used app on the home screen, and the top factor influencing the decision to move apps to the home screen is the frequency of usage;
  • Advertising and marketing are becoming more important app discovery channels;
  • Almost 4 in 10 smartphone users who receive push notification requests say they never or rarely agree to those requests, up from 31% last year, a troubling development given this data;
  • Smartphone app users spend 45% of their app time with their single favorite one, a huge share that is nonetheless actually down from last year;
  • Millennials concentrate more of their app time in their group’s top 10 apps than do Gen Xers (35-54) and Boomers (55+);
  • Snapchat is now used by 70% of 18-24-year-old mobile users, and is making some inroads among 25-34-year-olds (41%) and those older than 35 (14%); and
  • Almost half of mobile app time is spent in the social networking (20%), music (16%) and gaming (12%) categories, with mobile apps contributing 96% of digital time for music.

The full comScore report can be downloaded here.


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