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The Surge of Mobile in 2020

While the outside world was largely inaccessible in the first few months of Covid, video and screen usage surged as Americans spent more time on their phones. It follows that mobile advertising likewise saw a significant uptick. As lockdowns began to ease, those numbers continued to surge. A report from Consumer Acquisition shows that prices on mobile advertising networks grew very quickly. In fact, CPMs jumped by 100 percent (from five dollars to ten dollars) in many regions of the country as quarantine measures eased in May, particularly for services and travel. Here’s a look at other booms happening in the world of mobile.

Messaging Platforms
While sheltering at home, mobile users sought new ways to connect with friends and family. Mobile messaging platforms, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessage, proved to be essential communication tools. eMarketer forecasts that this year adults will spend an average of 24 daily minutes on such apps, up from 20 minutes in 2019. What’s more, GlobalWebIndex data shows that 19 percent of US internet users are increasingly turning to messaging sites as a result of the coronavirus. That’s due in large part to both their functionality and the range of offered features. Gone are the days of basic texting. Consumers now crave the ability to share videos, GIFs and memes via mobile. That demand directly correlates to advertising numbers: According to an AdColony study, marketers spend 42 percent of app install budgets on video ad campaigns (followed by display ads, search ads and cross promotion). Perhaps that’s due to advertising’s proven ability to trigger app downloads, with 55 percent of advertisers calling full-screen video effective, more so than any other ad format.

Shopping Sites
Brick-and-mortars may have temporarily shuttered in spring, but that didn’t spell the end of fun for shoppers. Instead, consumers grabbed their smartphones to browse online and, according to a study from marketing firms Liftoff and Adjust, shopping app engagement spiked 40 percent in March compared to one year earlier. Engagement rates reached nearly 15 percent, up four percent from 2019. Users were eager to make purchases on mobile sites. They completed registrations a quick 16 minutes after downloading new shopping apps, and took less than nine hours to pull the trigger when it came to buying items.

News Apps
Along with shopping online, Americans also consumed more news during the months of January to April. The US witnessed a 104 percent hike in daily time spent with news apps, while installs rose by 53 percent as users searched for Covid-19 updates. Around the world, installs reached their peak in March, during the height of lockdown. This meant good news for media outlets, even those that posted slightly lower ad revenue as compared to last year, like The New York Times. Despite their decline from 55 to 50 percent in advertising sales, the newspaper added 587,000 new digital subscriptions, which brought their total subscriber number to 5.8 million. Apps used for business purposes also enjoyed a 70 percent gain and gaming app usage urged by 132 percent in the last week of March as—no surprise—consumers clamored for new forms of entertainment.

Mobile has served as an invaluable source of connectivity during these days of distance, keeping us in touch with loved ones, informed of the latest headlines and able to acquire necessary goods. As lockdowns began to ease, prices on mobile ad networks continued to surge, which speaks to the enduring popularity of these apps and platforms.