In Audience Measurement

Media Apps, As Opposed to System Apps, Are 50% More Likely to Keep Consumers Engaged Right After Unlocking the Mobile Device!

We have been discussing previously (Mobile Unlock Journey Part 1Part 2, Part 3) about the fact that so many smartphone sessions are extremely quick, and how average American consumers unlock their smartphone devices as frequently as 49 times a day!

The other notable dimension worth exploring regarding unlocking is the likelihood for people to stay active with the device for a long time. Sessions where the first app viewed after unlock (could be already on the screen waiting for you, or launched from the launcher) is used at least for 10 seconds or more (reflecting more significant usage) are called “perfect landings” – these sessions are on average 41% of all unlock sessions. So, this means they are a minority. Most unlock sessions, in other words, lead to other types of sessions: “express takeoffs”, “touch and go”, and “aborts”. There is therefore some room for improvement, making it more dynamic and intelligence to bring the right content and apps in front of the consumer’s eyes, when he or she is unlocking the device.


Using this same framework, we also took a look at the category of the app being activated by the user right after unlock, and how that category correlates with the likelihood to use the app for a long time. System apps are apps like calendar, phonebook, clock, settings – not about real content consumption or digital service usage. Media apps are the apps that contain real use cases, specific types of information or value, either hedonic or utilitarian, and those apps of course outnumber all the system apps. However, it is interesting to see the strong contrast between system apps and media apps, in terms whether the sessions sessions are “perfect landings”. On average, 60% of unlock sessions which lead into a system app are less than 10 seconds in length (for that system app session duration), while the same for media apps is much lower – at 40%. In other words, if the consumer is led to launch a media app, or he/she intentionally does it by coordinating how he/she works with the smartphone, these app sessions are more likely to be longer – and hence more engaged, valuable, and serious, by nature.


This poses all kinds of thoughts for the designers of apps and smartphone operating systems, but also for OEMs and carriers who control the user interfaces of these devices increasingly. If is easier to lead people to activate real content and non-system apps, it will also push data traffic volumes up, increase overall time spent with the device, and more likely to expose consumers to advertising – all these have monetary value, and hence the optimization and adjustment of how the mobile UIs work should not be underestimated.

Comments and feedback would be welcome, our teams are continuing 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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