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Mobile app ads have been found to perform better than those on mobile sites, and other analysis suggests time spent with mobile internet skews heavily toward apps. However, in a December 2014 study by Harris Poll for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, US smartphone owners didn’t view usage the same way: 33% said they used mobile sites and apps with about the same frequency, compared with 18% who said they spent a significantly larger amount of time with apps.
The study pointed to in-app browsing as one reason for the difference in time spent figures vs. user opinions, and results suggested the two actually work together plenty of the time, as mobile apps act as a “portal” to web articles. Fully 52% of smartphone owners said they tapped links in mobile apps that led to articles on mobile websites at least sometimes, with around half of that group doing so often or very often.
Respondents who had been brought to articles on mobile websites after clicking in-app links found more value from such content, possibly because they’re already in an environment that relates somewhat to their interests. Fully 50% of smartphone users said they had learned new things as a result of accessing articles this way, and 39% said they found articles they wouldn’t have found otherwise. More than one-quarter (26%) also said this was a way to find publications and websites they didn’t know about.
IAB said apps served as “a key route” to mobile websites—especially social media apps. Fully 26% of smartphone owners used social media apps to find mobile websites—the third-highest response behind search engines (48%) and word-of-mouth (29%). Fully 14% of respondents also cited other mobile apps and news aggregation apps as sources.
The number of US consumers accessing the mobile internet via web browser or app will continue to rise by double digits (11.2%) this year. eMarketer expects 187.3 million mobile phone users in the US to go online via such devices, representing 72.2% of internet users, 72.8% of mobile phone users and 58.3% of the population.
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