Over the past decade, I’ve watched as consumer mobile use — and especially the amount of time that consumers spend using mobile apps — has increased. According to research we published earlier this year, the amount of time we spend using mobile devices versus PCs continues to increase, and apps have overtaken desktop web as the primary way that consumers engage with online media content. However, mobile web use still plays an important role in consumer behavior; as our research with Kargo revealed, mobile web still has a greater reach among users overall, and drives longer session times. It’s also important to note that platform and device default apps, such as calendars, maps, personal information management, settings, app stores, and utilities account for a large portion of mobile app usage. Meanwhile, mobile web usage is primarily focused on media content, or consumers accessing content across the web; as a result, mobile app and mobile web use are not easily or totally comparable on an aggregated level.
The Value of Ratings Data and Its New Flavors
For the audience measurement industry, this evolution and the increased nuances that introduces to consumer digital behavior presents a new set of questions. What should we actually be measuring in order to paint a proper picture of the digital consumer? Granularity and a cross-device approach is certainly key: it’s clear that there’s value in measuring both app and web use across devices, and in a comparable way. And especially for brands and publishers, cross-device ratings provide a foundation for understanding which properties are best suited to advertise to specific target groups. Without cross-device ratings, one cannot easily compare the value of different devices or channels (app vs. web) in context with each other.
However, due to the rise of programmatic platforms, the use cases for ratings data are changing. It is increasingly important to build insights and not simply track metrics like reach, frequency, and other basic engagement numbers. Instead, insights can and should provide a deeper level of understanding when it comes to consumer behavior: for example, day-in-life models, user segmentation approaches (based on activity or cross-device usage or propensities to take action), a view of exclusive users versus omni-brand users, and detailed information on churning, returning, re-engaged, and new users.
Creating a Holistic Solution
The ability to describe one’s audience in simple, holistic terms – creating a portrait of their behavior along with demographics, lifestyles, attitudes, and interests – is a need that has been identified by many of Verto’s customers, especially over the past year. Working together, we’ve helped our customers use these audience insights to develop a customer-centric approach to grow their businesses by launching smarter audience acquisition efforts, activating targeted campaigns, and identifying the most effective advertising platforms for their needs. Most importantly, our customers have told us how they use these new types of audience insights and visualizations in a new way with advertisers, creating compelling charts of their own audiences compared to those of their competitors.
As we head into 2018, we at Verto realize that insights-driven, people-centric approaches are rapidly becoming the norm; it’s no longer sufficient to gather simple metrics about your audience. Instead, you need to know what your audience is doing throughout the day, and where – on which sites or apps, and on which devices. And as our customers come to expect more from audience measurement providers, the industry as a whole needs to develop the right technology and methodology to meet these demands.