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Adobe Digital Index

Mobile browsing set to replace desktop in fewer than 18 months

Mobile apps or the mobile Web – which should brand marketers focus their time and money on during the run-up to Christmas? Both, according to Adobe Digital Index’s (ADI) 2015 Mobile Benchmark Report.

That’s because both mobile app and mobile Web usage continue to grow, the latest ADI analysis found. In fact, leading brands see between 50% and 70% of their contact with consumers via these channels.

ADI research found that mobile browsing and app usage tend to complement one another, with both growing year-over-year (YoY). Mobile browsing is on track to replace desktop in 18 months or less, with visits up 16% YoY (from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015), ADI found. Meanwhile, the amount of app sessions launched increased 51% YoY. ADI also found that during peak periods, such as holiday shopping, the proportion of mobile traffic to specific sites often surpassed 70%.

"The complementary nature of desktops and mobile devices reinforces the need for marketers to fully understand what people do, not just what devices do. This can best be accomplished by thinking of the specific uses across devices and stitching the cross-device journey together," says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI.

In addition, separate survey research conducted this past June and July by Adobe among 1,025 US owners of smartphones or tablets underscores how mobile app vs. mobile Web browsing play different roles in consumers’ lives.

For example, in finance, the survey found that consumers preferred browsing to apps 59% to 41% when researching, while they preferred apps for reviewing sensitive information, such as accounts (64% to 36%).

In retail, 60% of consumers stated a preference for browsing for the wide variety of options it provides when researching and searching for products. When it came to actually buying products, 57% of consumers stated a preference to shop through apps – although actual behavioral data suggested it might not be that high since shopping apps were used fewer times than either media or finance apps, on average.

The survey asked respondents what activities they used mobile devices for. In finance, mobile was used predominately to review account information and conduct transactions. For retail, it was used to receive promotions and alerts about specials, and to conduct product searches. In media and entertainment, mobile was used to keep up with social media and access local information, while in travel it was used for accessing maps, directions, and checking reviews.

"These findings clearly indicate that consumers will choose whatever technology is most appropriate for their needs. It can’t be an either-or one-size-fits-all proposition," Gaffney says.

ADI’s 2015 Mobile Benchmark Report is based on aggregate and anonymous data across automotive, finance, health, media and entertainment, retail, and travel Web sites and mobile applications. Traffic trends were extracted from 500 billion-plus visits from more than 13,000 websites via Adobe Analytics data, and mobile app usage patterns were taken from Adobe Mobile Services, which logged 65 billion-plus app launches across industries and regions.

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