Smartphones Now Capture Two-Thirds of US Digital Media Time

July 6, 2018

People in the US spent more than twice as much time accessing the internet through smartphone applications than via desktops in April, notes comScore in a recent presentation [download page] on location data. In fact, smartphone apps accounted for a majority (59%) of time spent with digital media during that month, with another 7% of total digital media time going to the smartphone web.

Collectively, that means that smartphone apps and web comprised roughly two-thirds (66%) of digital media time in April.

Adding in tablets’ 8% share of time, and mobile devices are now up to three-quarters (74%) of total digital media time in the US as of April.

Indeed, as comScore notes, there are now 198 million smartphone users ages 13 and older, who average 3.1 hours per day online with their device. (See here for a breakdown of smartphone ownership rates across 37 countries.)

Burgeoning time spent with mobile devices means that adults in the US will soon spend more time with mobile media than with TV, according to eMarketer. And that milestone is forecast to happen sooner rather than later: next year, daily time spent with mobile media (223 minutes) is expected to exceed daily time spent watching TV (222 minutes) for the first time, albeit by a single minute.

A similar milestone already happened quite some time ago for youth. A report from Nielsen last year revealed that 18-34-year-olds spent more time with smartphone apps and web in Q3 2016 than with traditional TV.

Mobile is also gaining steam worldwide. A report from Zenith, for example, estimated that mobile internet consumption will occupy almost one-quarter (24%) of all media consumption this year, up from just 5% in 2011.

Advertisers are catching on. Recently, eMarketer forecast that mobile ad spending would exceed TV ad spending in the US for the first time this year, before growing to hog almost half of all US ad expenditures in 2020.

New predictions from PwC somewhat, if not fully, concur. In its Global Media & Entertainment Outlook, PwC forecasts that mobile ad spending in the US will total $61.3 billion this year, still below TV’s $71 billion. But by next year, mobile will have edged ahead, with $72.5 billion in ad spending compared to TV’s $72.1 billion.

Given the prevailing trends, it’s likely that the gap between mobile and TV – for both consumption and ad spending – will only grow in subsequent years.

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