Marketers Beware: The App Landscape is Changing

Cristina Constandache, VP at Cheetah Mobile, shares her insights into how consumers are changing the way they interact with apps, and what mobile marketers can do to keep up.

Cheetah CristinaMobile is taking centre stage at a rapid rate. According to Mediapost, 2016 is the first year when worldwide mobile ad spend will surpass desktop ($99 billion and $97 billion respectively), and the UK is the only place in the world besides China where mobile accounts for over half of national ad spend. Great news for marketers, who can rest assured that their mobile ad spend is money well spent, as long as they take into account the changing rules of mobile marketing.

For one, we used to scroll and scroll through the myriad of apps that populated our smartphones until we found the one app we needed. Each app would serve just a single purpose, and branded apps blossomed in their thousands on the iOS App Store and Google Play. But this is no longer the case – in fact, according to ComScore’s 2015 US Mobile App Report, quite the opposite. Consumers are now spending 80 per cent of their smartphone time in just three apps, while those that aren’t favourites are out of the game.

So on the bright side, consumers are engaging for longer with the apps they do use. But to stay among those prized few, marketers must use all the user retention tactics at their disposal. What we’re seeing from the mobile frontline is that developers with a strong focus on delivering valuable content, whether editorial or video, are much more likely to successfully retain and engage users.

The appetite for video
In an undeniably fundamental shift, 53 per cent of all online video viewings in Europe now happen on mobile, according to Ooyala’s Video Index 2016. It’s no longer up for debate whether video should be mobile-optimised – in fact, video must be mobile-first.

Smartphones are highly interactive devices compared to TV, for example, and ads must reflect this. That’s why integrating interactive elements such as mini games or micro quizzes are favoured by many mobile marketers. It’s a similar story for the vertical video format: perfectly suited to the mobile screen, vertical video has rapidly overtaken the landscape format of laptops, pioneered by apps like Snapchat,, and Periscope.

Cheetah Mobile is partnering with popular social video apps like to bring on the vertical video revolution. Video demand will continue to grow exponentially, but it’s not only video consumers are asking for.

No news isn’t good news
Just like video, editorial content from publishers is in high demand. News streams are found everywhere on mobile from the Facebook app to the iOS home screen. Why? Deloitte research shows UK citizens collectively look at their smartphones over a billion times a day – and if we’re constantly on our phones, the last thing we want is nothing new! The demand for news content is increasing dramatically because we interact more regularly with our devices and expect something new every time we pull down to refresh.

This is the logic behind our recent acquisition of News Republic, a leading mobile news app that tops the charts on iOS and Google Play in many markets around the globe. News content adds value to the user experience and generates high levels of engagement – especially when there is a locally-relevant, personalized news experience powered by a combination of machine intelligence and local editors in individual markets.

Easy ways to embrace mobile
The mobile marketing rulebook might have been revised, but marketers just need to keep pace with where consumers are and what they want – which, let’s face it, has always been their remit. Here are three considerations to revise your mobile strategies in line with changes in consumer behaviour:

Invest in editorial and video content. Consumers’ appetites for mobile content are surging, and marketers can use this to their advantage to drive the best ROI and ensure high levels of user retention. To avoid being left without enough mobile-optimised content to fill digital and emerging channels, brands must begin thinking now how they can allocate resources or showcase user-generated, influencer, and other third-party content to maintain supplies and high standards.

Think vertical. Cisco has predicted that by 2019, 75 per cent of all mobile traffic will be video content. This content must be optimised for mobile, which increasingly means vertical. These days we’re not so willing to turn our phones sideways, and brands must take this into account. As for the benefit for them – many app makers are finding that users are much more likely to finish a vertical video ad than a horizontal one.

Make a move into the app ecosystem. Your brand should be able to offer an app that’s more than a one-trick pony. By integrating social functions, e-commerce, and third party services, as well as funnelling in all that great editorial and video content you’re creating, your app will easily be branded a favourite by your customers and stay in their top three, safe from deletion.

While it may seem like the playing field is shrinking as consumers focus their attention on fewer apps, the growing demand for more content – editorial and especially video – should be seen as an opportunity, not a restriction.

This sponsored article was written by Cristina Constandache, VP at Cheetah Mobileand is editorially independent from Mobile Marketing Magazine