In Audience Measurement

Almost 50% of Mobile Unlock Sessions Are Shorter Than 30 Seconds!

We have already learned previously (Mobile Unlock Journey Part 1 & Part 2) that consumers unlock their smartphone devices more than 50 times a day on average. This frequency beats many other media formats if you think about how many times per day you devote your full attention to a TV ad, Youtube ad, or even ads on your Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. When you open up your mobile screen by unlocking it, you are very focused on that – we are talking about undivided attention when you hold your device in your hand and complete any active gestures needed to unlock the device.

However, the downside of all this is the fact that the barrier to unlocking your device to do quick, small, and sometimes non-relevant or non-significant tasks, is very low. It takes only a second to unlock your screen, whereas in many cases when you turn your smart TV on, or power up and log in to your PC, it takes dozens of seconds, even minutes.

So, does this behavior reflect in the average time spent per mobile device session? We looked at recent Verto data (see below) to explore this! This is from Verto’s Smart Panel data from this winter, where we analyzed the length of mobile device sessions. One device session is a combination of activities following unlock, in using apps or mobile websites, widgets, or any other media properties, before the screen is turned off and the UI is locked again.

pct_of_unlock_sessions_by_lenght
Mobile Snacking is very common, with about half of all smartphone sessions lasting less than 30 seconds

Based on this analysis, it is remarkable to see that 7 out of every 100 smartphone unlock sessions are less than 3 seconds in length! These sessions typically look something like this: you swipe the screen open, set up or turn off alarms, browse quick notifications, and check out the next meeting on the calendar. All in all, 25% of all mobile unlock sessions are less than 10 seconds in length – not a lot of time to do tasks like emailing, chatting, calling, creating content, etc. And overall, almost 50% of all mobile unlock sessions are shorter than half a minute!

People are using their mobile devices for snackable content and use cases. The barrier for unlocking and turning attention to the screen, even just for a few seconds, is very low. A minority of all mobile sessions, only about 1 out of every 10, last more than 10 minutes. PC, tablet, and other bigger screens experience much longer average session durations.

This naturally has led to problems too, especially as a growing body of research points to potential addictions and other adverse symptoms of people too dependent on their smartphones. This problem has been mainly brought up in light of kids using smartphones more and more actively.

Verto’s data shows that the frequency of unlocking devices is high (and increasing), and overall, many sessions are super quick. Most smartphone sessions are about sporadic, quick tasks, rather than longer tasks that require extended attention. Is this worrying or not, from your point of view?

We welcome your comments and feedback as Verto continues to research these topics actively.

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

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