Mobile User Habits Have Evolved from Goldfish to Ravens

Since the start of the mobile revolution, our concentration spans have decreased from 12 to 8 seconds – scientists link this change to the rise of mobile phones and their proliferation in daily life. That’s not only shorter than any previous generation but, as we all know, it’s also shorter than a goldfish’s attention span.  However, responding to consumers’ need for immediate gratification, and their short attention spans, seems to be a thing of the past. App developers need to look for a new role model in the animal kingdom; and a study recently conducted by Matomy suggests ravens are the way to go. Gil Klein (pictured below), EVP Media, Matomy, explains why app-users are akin this bird and will delay gratification for a reward of higher quality.

A survey recently conducted by Matomy with over 1,000 app developers unveiled several surprising results that challenge industry assumptions of the app monetisation process. Last year, a study argued that 80.5% of app users who spend money in-app, make that initial purchase in the first 48 hours after installing the app. However, Matomy recently found that users are now taking longer to make in-app purchases: 26% of app developers said it takes between 48 hours and one week to spend money in-app; while 47% said it might take up to one week, or even longer. While these results contradict the industry assumption that an app has just a few hours, or a day, to convince a user to spend money, they are not surprising.

Apps are an integral part of our daily lives and are no longer only a source of entertainment but, in fact, they often provide services. For example, before anyone will spend money on a personal trainer app they want to explore all that will be offered. This due diligence takes time, but indicates an interest to commit to the service provided by the app. This lengthier process, whereby users are more willing to spend money in-app, but spend longer deciding to do so, showcases that users are now accustomed to the instant gratification that is generated by apps, but are now more concerned with the choice of how and from where. They are in pursuit of greater value and longer-term satisfaction; in other words, they are transitioning from ‘now’ to ‘need’.

Gil Klein, EVP Media, Matomy

The survey also challenges industry assumptions about in-app advertising. In addition to monetising apps through in-app purchases, mobile app developers turn to advertising to maximise app profitability. Recently, app developers and the marketing industry in general were quick to pronounce that the in-app banner ad is no longer effective. But, in fact, the banner is still king: 38% of app developers chose banners as the best performing ad format. This does not mean video is not effective – it has grown in popularity by 55% since just last year, an amazing trajectory. Banners were extremely successful on desktop, and their move to mobile caused a few concerns – the banners were too small on mobile devices, the text barely legible, and they interrupted user experience. But mobile banners have improved since they were first introduced, and consumers may be more accustomed to seeing them on their mobile devices. More importantly, e-commerce is on the rise on mobile and the convenience that comes with a targeted banner that’s just a click away from a purchase seems to continue to trump the disruption they might cause.

The mobile revolution is the norm and digital devices have infiltrated every part of daily life. Just as consumers have gone through a maturation process that has affected their behavior on their phones, it is important for app developers and industry players to be aware of these continuous changes and respond accordingly. Shorter attention spans are no longer the key factor driving consumer behavior. It’s time to move on from the goldfish and onto the – and ensure that the apps being developed withstand careful consideration and bring longer-term satisfaction.