Mobile Insights: How Users Spend Their Time on Mobile Devices

March 4, 2018
Anna Hubbel
@Emarketer shared its US estimates on mobile behaviors to help marketers get the most out of their mobile strategies in #2018. #mobileapps #digitaladvertising #adspend Click To Tweet

The various ways users engage with their mobile devices reveal valuable information about the best way to market to them. Marketing data and research analyst Emarketer shared its US estimates on mobile behaviors to help marketers get the most out of their mobile strategies in 2018.

US Mobile Internet Usage

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Smartphone Internet users make up 93.4 percent of all Internet usage in the US, according to Emarketer. Out of 223 million mobile phone Internet users total, 219.8 million are smartphone users (up 6.1 percent from 2016). An estimated 157.4 million users are tablet Internet users (up 4.6 percent from 2016).

Mobile-only Internet users (including tablets, smartphones, and feature phones) are up 11.1 percent from 2016, whereas desktop- and laptop-only Internet users are down 11.8 percent from 2016. While users may continue to use a combination of desktop or laptop and mobile to use the Internet, Emarketer expects desktop- and laptop-only Internet usage to continue to decline.

Mobile Ad Spend

US mobile ad spending totaled $58.38 billion in 2017, up 25 percent from 2016. An estimated $45.26 billion of that total went towards in-app ads. Additionally, ad spend invested in mobile was double the ad spend in desktop.

Mobile Ad Formats

Mobile display formats (video, rich media, and banner) make up 51.8 percent of mobile ad spend. Within that percentage, mobile video makes up 10.2 percent, mobile rich media makes up 16.7 percent, and mobile banner or other makes up 24.9 percent. In contrast, mobile search makes up 44 percent of mobile ad spend. Emarketer attributes the bigger investment in mobile display formats to the increasing consumer usage of social networking and mobile video consumption.

Mobile and Social

About 174.4 million users take part in social networking on their mobile phones (up 6.9 percent from 2016). One hundred fifty-seven users engage with Facebook on their mobile phones while 84.7 million and 79.2 million engage with Instagram and Snapchat on their mobile phones, respectively. Although the growth rate for mobile social networking has decreased to single-digit percentages, Emarketer says growth for mobile is still faster.

Mobile Time Spent and Activities

Primarily, Emarketer says users spend their mobile time in apps, making up 84 percent of total mobile Internet time. As for time spent in browsers on mobile devices, it’s frequent, but very brief, making up only 15 percent of total mobile Internet time.

Out of the total amount of time spent on mobile Internet, 34 percent is spent on tablets and 65.3 percent is spent on smartphones. Tablet browser usage makes up only 23 percent of tablet Internet time, with tablet app usage making up 77 percent of tablet Internet time. Smartphone browser usage makes up only 11 percent of smartphone Internet time, with smartphone app usage making up 89 percent of smartphone Internet time.

As for app usage overall, mobile social-network app usage makes up 23.9 percent of mobile app time; mobile game apps make up 14.3 percent; mobile video apps make up 18.7 percent, and other app activities make up 43.1 percent.

When considering mobile strategies, it’s also important to create stunning app designs.