In Audience Measurement

Last week, we posted about how the frequency of simply unlocking a device could present opportunities for better engagement in this series. In this post, we’ll talk about how mobile unlocking provides a potential frequency of 50 incremental mobile impressions per day, perfect for capturing user attention!

We do not pay attention to it often, but most of us are swiping on our smartphones from the keypad lock state more than 50 times a day. When we do this unlocking action, we are ready to embark on something, do something, and this is a great opportunity to catch consumer attention right at the spot, in the right context, with a one-to-one connection. This is the reason why we have researched this topic so much–mobile unlocking!

Some of our insights from our report reveal how many times this unlock event (swiping the keypad lock open) actually leads people to go back to the previously used app vs. leading to the home screen. The split is about 50 / 50 – to be precise 49% of all unlocks lead people to return to the previous app – and 51% of all unlocks lead to the home screen of the smartphone.


As our specialists have commented, there are three ways for the app to be available on the screen right away after unlocking:

  • You locked the screen when using the previous app
  • You pressed a push notification on your screensaver/lock screen
  • The operating system dynamically and contextually changes the app that is active

The implications of the operating system and user interface, and how they operate and function, are actually significant. The default, easy-to-believe, type of user experience designs are about the previous app or the app related to the push notification being lifted up after unlocking – makes sense.

However, the fact that carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon), device vendors (Apple, Samsung, HTC, Huawei etc.), operating system and platform vendors (Google, Apple), or 3rd party SW platforms or Internet companies (Facebook, Twitter, Snap), could actually alter and modify, with or without user permission (depending on their control of the relevant tech stack), what happens after unlocking, and which apps gain momentum in front of users’ eyes, could potentially have far-fetching consequences.

First, this is definitely a great opportunity to make sure that the app that will be in focus after unlocking, could provide the right type of contextual and beneficial content, information, or tips to the user. Consider the app knowing that you are driving, and will automatically bring the map/navigation app in front when unlocking. Or consider that you just received an email tagged seriously important, and after unlocking this email pops up to you right away – these types of features could add value to the user indeed!

However, this provides a significant opportunity for advertising, too. One can pose better-targeted ads in front of the user – tied to the time of the day, location, context, social surroundings, your demographics, and information about your current tasks, calendar, apps/sites you have visited, search terms and potential areas of interest, etc.

The potential frequency for capturing this type of user attention via advertising, is between zero and 50, on average, per day – and mobile advertising technologies or platforms have not yet capitalized on the unlocks on the most serious level. Interesting to see how these dynamics and unlock-based advertising will evolve in the future!

Interested in more insights about the digital behaviors of the mobile unlock journey? Download the full report here.

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