Social, Sports, Search: The Australian App Obsession

Social, Sports, Search: The Australian App Obsession

We know that consumers are spending more time on their apps than ever before. Over the past half-decade, the proliferation of mobile devices has transformed us into an app-driven society. It has presented marketers with new opportunities to connect with consumers by creating more interesting and sophisticated apps to command their attention.

The latest results from the third round of IAB Australia/Nielsen mobile panel data for July 2014 reveals that 52 percent of our digital time is spent on mobile devices. App usage heavily dominates the time we spend on our smartphones and tablets and apps also generate the highest levels of engagement.

We spend 85 percent of our total smartphone time using apps – the remaining 15 percent of time using a browser. Tablets follow a similar trend, although the gap is not as large – 77 percent of our time is spent on apps versus 23 percent of time spent on web browsers.

So how are we spending this time? The mobile pilot data reveals that a staggering 73 percent of our smartphone app usage is spent on social and gaming apps. Facebook leads the social category, with three in every four minutes of total time spent using its app. This equates to 25 percent of total smartphone app time being spent on Facebook, and includes a range of content from a wide variety of publishers’ content consumed via the app. Gaming time is more fragmented across multiple apps, with the likes of Candy Crush Saga, Words with Friends and Farm Heroes Saga ranking favourably.  

It is a different story when we look at smartphone apps by active reach, with more functional apps (Gmail, Google Maps, Weather etc) appearing in the top 20. These are the apps that more people use on a monthly basis, but don’t necessarily have the duration of time spent seen with social networking and gaming apps (with the exception of Facebook, which ranks highly in this list).


1Facebook11Maps (Apple
2Google Search12Instagram
3Google Play13Weather
4Google Maps14Stocks
5Facebook Messenger15Viber
8Music (iTunes Radio/iCloud)18WhatsApp Messenger
9eBay Mobile19S Suggest

Director of Research for IAB Australia, Gai Le Roy, says that mobile advertising now represents over 22 percent of display revenue. And new data coming from the smartphone and tablet panel is helping the market quantify the range of consumer mix of fun, function and information-based activities.

A study undertaken by Nielsen in the US revealed an apparent upper limit to the total number of apps users are willing to access within a given month, however, the amount of time they are spending on those apps is showing no signs of slowing down.

Monica Bannan, vice president of product leadership at Nielsen, says that as mobile consumption habits evolve, it’s imperative that app developers continue to add functionality and robustness to their offerings.

“Although there does appear to be a limit to the number of apps people are willing to access on a monthly basis, they’re spending 31 percent more time than they were last year, proving that it’s the content that counts,” says Bannan.


IAB Australia and Nielsen have released the third round of mobile panel data for July 2014 from their pilot project tracking 1,500 Australian smartphone and tablet users. The accurate measurement of mobile media time means that the industry now has a clear picture of the amount of time Australian consumers spend across screens. Read more here.