7 Out Of 10 Digital Media Minutes Are Spent In Mobile

David BoltonDavid Bolton
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Mobile first is fast becoming mobile only, especially when it comes to consuming digital media.

Mobile is eating the digital world.

Mobile’s dominance in the digital economy is often taken for granted, but it is the prime driver for the amount of time people spend in digital media.

A recent report on the state of digital audiences by cross-platform measurement company comScore said that the average American spends almost three hours every day on mobile. According to comScore’s 2017 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report, total digital media usage has increased by 40% in the last three years, with total monthly mobile usage time hitting the one trillion minute mark back in March 2016.

Mobile now accounts for seven out of 10 minutes spent in digital media, the report said. Mobile apps alone drive 60% of all digital time spent, with smartphone apps the main driver of digital media consumption. Around 51% of all digital media time is spent on a smartphone app, a increase of 16% since 2013.

Mobile has been gobbling up market share since 2013.

In essence, this is related to a decline in the amount of time spent on desktop. Three years ago, desktop commanded a 47% share of digital media time—that has now dropped to 31%. One in eight U.S. Internet users are now not just mobile first but mobile only, a demographic that is reportedly influenced by women aged between 18- and 24-years-old.

“The mobile-only Internet user is an emerging group within the digital media ecosystem,” said comScore. “Millennials are more likely to rely exclusively on their mobile devices, with the heaviest skews occurring among college-aged adults and females.”

Digital media chart

Mobile-First Could Become Mobile-Only

Digital media audiences have increased significantly in the last three years, with the top 1,000 properties averaging 16.8 million viewers per month.

This increase can be traced to mobile viewing habits that showed a growth rate of 127% since December 2013, the report said. On the flip side, the number of digital media properties that hit significant visitor thresholds has slowed in the last 12 months, with a year-on-year increase of 2% in terms of audiences of 50 million viewers or more.

The top digital media properties are the usual suspects— the ones owned by Google, Facebook and Yahoo. Google-owned sites lead the way with an average of 247 million unique visitors every month. Facebook and Yahoo are the only other properties in the U.S. that average more than 200 million monthly viewers; 209 million and 206 million, respective.

Visitors by platform chart

Facebook or Google also own the top eight mobile apps and 10 out of the top 20. Snapchat is the only leading digital media property in the top 10 mobile apps that is not owned by either company.

Facebook attracts nearly 156 million unique visitors every month, while Facebook Messenger is not lagging far behind with almost 137 million. Google-owned YouTube rounds out the top three with around 130.5 million visitors.

“The average Top 10 digital media property has 39% of its audience visiting only on mobile and 34% visiting on both mobile and desktop,” the report said. “For five of the Top 10, a majority of their digital media audiences are mobile-only visitors, highlighting the importance of mobile as a primary touchpoint for many large digital media companies.”

And when we talk about mobile, we really mean smartphones.

Smartphone penetration rates in the U.S. were over 80% in 2016, but the saturation of the market has—inevitably—led to slower growth overall. The reason for this is the presence of “technology laggards” who are unlikely to ever make the switch from their current device to a smartphone, although penetration rates among people aged between 18 and 34 is close to approaching 100%. Older people are buying smartphones, but the expectation is that it will be a slow climb to reach the rates of Millennials and Generation X, the report said.

Size Matters In Digital Media

As you might expect, the two/only major operating systems remain unchallenged.

Both iOS and Android have held an iron grip on the smartphone market since 2011 and the status quo is not likely to change. Android is still the leader with a 54% U.S. market share although iOS is not far behind on 43%. The difference between the two operating systems is predicated on the number of options available, but Apple has the largest smartphone share with 43% of people owning an iOS-running device.

In terms of digital media consumption on a smartphone, size does matter. More people have moved to smartphones that boast a screen size of 4.5 inches or larger, with bigger screen models outnumbering their smaller counterparts by four times. A desire to access content on larger and brighter screens has a direct correlation with the amount of digital time spent on mobile devices, which goes a long way to explaining why mobile is the key to delivering audiences at scale.

“Mobile time spent continues to progress upward, hitting a huge milestone in reaching an eyepopping level of one trillion minutes of aggregate media consumption per month in 2016,” comScore said. “This is nearly double what desktop Internet usage accounted for at its peak.”

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