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Mobile Usage and Spending in the US by the Numbers

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Posted by Anthony Karge on May 8, 2018
Mobile app usage and spending is rising in the US

It might come as no surprise that people in the US favor their mobile devices. After all, the US is the land where Apple and Google first found mobile success. The full extent to which US mobile users spend time on their phones is especially impressive. Forget television and desktop computers. Mobile phones, and specifically apps, are now the most popular form of media in terms of total usage and ad spending.

In the US, mobile is king. Here are the figures that show just how big the experience is — and what you can do to take advantage of the mobile in-app trend.

US ad spending by media 2018 is a landmark year for mobile. For the first time, mobile ad spending exceeds television. While TV, radio and print all face declines or flat growth in ad spending for the coming years, mobile ad spending is projected to grow by 80% from 2018 to 2022. By then, mobile ad spending will nearly exceed the total spending for radio, print, TV and desktop combined. It won't be long before spending on mobile ads further dwarfs all the other forms of media.

In-app vs mobile web ad spending in the US

As the above figure shows, apps are the reason for the enormous mobile ad spending. Advertisers prefer apps, as there are more advanced targeting options and richer data available compared to mobile web. That's only part of the story. A big reason for the disparity between in-app and mobile web ad spend is the overwhelming usage of apps by US users.

Time spent in-app vs mobile web in the US

Apps have long been preferred by mobile users in the US, but the trend is shifting even stronger towards apps. The average US user now spends nearly four hours (three hours and 51 minutes to be exact, reports eMarketer) using their mobile devices. Of that time, only 33 minutes is spent within mobile web — the remaining three hours and 18 minutes are spent in-app. The total amount of time that users spend in-app compared to mobile is a dream for advertisers. With apps being used so often, advertisers have plenty of opportunities to reach customers.

Opportunities in the US

Although in-app is both the present and future of advertising, opportunities for optimization remain. Users in the US and throughout the world use their phones dozens of times a day to find solutions in the moment. These moments are spread throughout the day, yet advertisers are missing chances to reach these users.

Mobile ad impressions vs bids by time of day in the US

As the chart shows, app usage stays largely steady throughout the day on the Smaato platform. Marketers are still attempting to reach users during the traditional "prime time" hours at around 8 p.m. that were established by the television industry decades ago. At this time, bidding activity is especially high. However, the steady influx of ad impressions throughout the morning hours — a time when bidding activity is still quite low — represents a great opportunity for advertisers to reach users.

Future Trends

There's little doubt that app usage will continue to grow in the US for years to come. The US might be a mature market when it comes to smartphone adoption compared to some fast-growing Asian countries, but it's still an invaluable market for both advertisers and publishers.

In-App Advertising Playbook Download

Written by Anthony Karge

Content Marketing Manager @ Smaato

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