Mobile Apps More Engaging Than Websites

Earlier today Google has published a post on multi-channel attribution, where among other things they’ve pointed out:

We’re …seeing channels like mobile grow tremendously. For instance, mobile is now 8% of all conversions that we’re seeing in Google Analytics, and mobile conversions have grown by about 180% in just the last year.

Being a fervent believer in the future of mobile commerce, I tweeting the above stats; and received an immediate reply from an old-time affiliate marketing friend, Richard Gaskin of Fourth World Systems. Here’s our mini-coversation:

I agree, it is shocking. However, an even more enlightening fact to me is that, apparently, 81.5% of smartphone users find mobile apps more engaging than websites.

A week ago comScore published the following data:

Top Smartphone Properties by Total Unique Visitors (Mobile Browser and App Audience Combined)
March 2012
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Age 18+ on iOS, Android and RIM Platforms
Source: comScore Mobile Metrix 2.0
Audience Engagement
Total Unique Visitors (000) % Reach Browser % Share of Total Time Spent App % Share of Total Time Spent
Total Audience (Browsing and Application combined) 97,007 100.0% 18.5% 81.5%
Google Sites 93,954 96.9% 18.9% 81.1%
Facebook 78,002 80.4% 20.0% 80.0%
Yahoo! Sites 66,185 68.2% 25.3% 74.7%
Amazon Sites 44,028 45.4% 14.3% 85.7%
Wikimedia Foundation Sites 39,073 40.3% 99.8% 0.2%
Apple Inc. 38,309 39.5% 0.3% 99.7%
Cooliris, Inc 28,543 29.4% 0.0% 100.0%
AOL, Inc. 28,021 28.9% 47.4% 52.6%
eBay 27,190 28.0% 17.6% 82.4%
Zynga 26,619 27.4% 0.4% 99.6%
Twitter 25,593 26.4% 3.5% 96.5%
Rovio (Angry Birds) 25,057 25.8% 3.7% 96.3%
Weather Channel, The 24,131 24.9% 47.1% 52.9%
Microsoft Sites 23,938 24.7% 82.1% 17.9%
ESPN 23,317 24.0% 56.8% 43.2%


However dated, here’s another interesting piece the puzzle: about a year ago Kony Solutions reported that they were “seeing over 30% higher conversion for iPhone native app customers vs. mobile web customers” [source, emphasis mine].

Does your business have a mobile app yet? Or at least a mobile website [some guidelines here]?

3 Replies to “Mobile Apps More Engaging Than Websites”

  1. I think the app vs mobile site debate won’t be too animated at all and should die pretty quickly, it’s perfectly feasible to have an optimised mobile site launching off an icon the same way an app would? Though the crunch term here is an ‘optimised site’ I think most so called mobile sites aren’t optimised for screen, content, or anything else really. Would be good to see the stats for the top 10 designed mobile sites vs their corresponding apps if possible.

    1. Good points, Shaeeb. Yes, I too would love to see such stats (especially for the above-mentioned two KPIs — (i) time spent and (ii) conversion). If you come across something like this, please do let me know.

  2. Geno,

    I disagree that apps are more engaging and lead to more conversions. What’s missing here is that if you create an app, you have to market it. If you have a mobile website, that is detected by the search engine and your content is served up in a manner that (hopefully) makes viewing and doing whatever it is you came there to do easier. Apps are great solutions – sometimes. But they are not always the best solution. As always, it depends on your business, your goals, and your customers.


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