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MBPT Spotlight: Nielsen Report Offers Marketers Insight on Mobile App Users

Nielsen has just released a new report that profiles app use by consumers and provides user demographic data. With mobile in-app ad spending expected to reach $20.8 billion this year, this is information marketers should pay attention to.

Mobile in-app ad spending is expected to increase 52% this year over 2014, when $13.7 billion was spent, according to eMarketer, and by 2016, in-app ad spending is expected to reach $29.7 billion.

As Nielsen reports, “over the span of just a few years, the concept of app usage has transformed from a novelty to an essential part of the mobile user experience. With millions of apps now available and more being rolled out every day, there is an app for everyone, regardless of age, race or interest.”

But Nielsen also points out that marketers must effectively position their advertising so it stands out in this increasingly competitive ad marketplace.

The Nielsen data finds that despite the growing number of app offerings, smartphone users accessed an average of 26.7 apps per month in fourth quarter 2014, a number that has remained flat over the past two years. Data also found that over 70% of the total usage is coming from the top 200 apps. The time consumers spent in engaging on those apps has increased, however. Monthly time spent per person on apps has increased from 23 hours and 2 minutes in fourth-quarter 2012 to 37 hours and 28 minutes in fourth quarter 2014 — an increase of 63%.

So who are these app users? The study found that more men than women use apps on a monthly basis; however, women users spend more time when they do use apps. Men use on average 27.2 apps per month compared to 26.3 for women; however, women spend an average of 38 hours and 2 minutes per month on apps, compared to men who spend 36 hours and 51 minutes per month.

App usage is also very diverse.  African-Americans use the most apps per month – 30.3 – and also spend the most time – 42 hours and 58 minutes. In terms of app usage, Asian-Americans are next, using an average of 28 apps per month, closely followed by Hispanics at 27.9 and whites with 25.9. As for time spent monthly on apps, in second behind African-Americans are Hispanics with 41 hours and 31 minutes, Asian Americans with 37 hours and 14 minutes and whites with 35 hours and 25 minutes.

The entertainment category is the largest when it comes to app usage. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the unique audience for entertainment apps was 151.8 million, up 13% from fourth quarter 2013. In terms of time spent, that audience devoted an average of 13 hours and 20 minutes per month to entertainment apps during fourth quarter 2014. That’s up 26% from the 10 hours and 34 minutes per month devoted in fourth quarter 2013.

The entertainment category ranges from mobile apps where consumers can play games, listen to music, watch video, read comics and check weather and get sports scores.

Gaming is the largest entertainment subcategory, followed by music, video/movies, sports and books, magazines and comics.

The data shows that 115 million entertainment app users or 76% of the total played at least one game in fourth quarter 2014. Average time spent on gaming increased by 1 hour and 35 minutes per month in fourth quarter 2014 to 10 hours and 2 minutes, compared to fourth quarter 2013 total of 8 hours and 27 minutes – an increase of 19%.

There were 111.3 million unique music app users in fourth quarter 2014, up 13% over the 98.2 million in fourth quarter 2013. Time spent listening to music on the apps was basically flat from year to year – 2 hours and 37 minutes in fourth quarter 2014, compared to 2 hours and 39 minutes in fourth quarter 2013.

The watching of video and movie apps was up both in number of users and time spent. Unique fourth quarter users in 2014 grew to 103.7 million from 91.3 million, an increase of 14%. Time spent watching on the apps grew from 1 hour and 28 minutes a month to 1 hour and 44 minutes a month, an increase of 18%.

Sports app unique users in fourth quarter 2014 totaled 35.8 million, up 6% from 34.7 million in 2013. Time spent using sports apps grew 14%, from 1 hour and 50 minutes in fourth quarter 2013 to 2 hours and 5 minutes in fourth quarter 2014.

Books, magazine and comic app unique users grew in fourth quarter 2014 by 28% to 34.9 million from 27.2 million. Time spent on those apps grew 8% from 1 hour and 14 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Nielsen collected the data about mobile app usage from approximately 5,000 persons over 18 years of age. Each gave the research company permission to install Mobile NetView 3.0, Nielsen’s on-device software on their Android or iOS smartphones. All ethnic groups were represented.