Mobile apps have far surpassed the mobile web in consumer usage but there is still significant confusion in the business world over what the differences are and what the proper strategy should be for each of them.
The first order of business is to clear up what each of the terms means. The mobile web simply refers to browsing the Internet on a mobile device. Ironically, the browser that is used to surf the web is just another app on a consumer’s phone.
A mobile app is a specialized application written specifically for a mobile device. It is designed for the smaller screen size and uses the native capabilities of the phone just like applications on a computer use the capabilities of the computer.
A third bit of confusion comes from the term “mobile-enabled Web site” which is all the rage right now. It sounds sexier than it really is, but nonetheless it has risen in importance recently due to changes in how Google ranks web sites. As you are aware, a web site is an address on the world wide web that provides a place for you to put pages which include information and other elements about your business. Most web sites, at least in the past, were best viewed from a computer. This is simply because a computer had a much bigger screen than a phone, and all sites were initially optimized to use the bigger screen size.
As it turns out, many people surf the web on their phones, and viewing a site made for a large screen on a much smaller screen is not that pleasant. Hence, mobile enabled web sites were born. This just means that the site that is optimized for a big screen can dynamically switch it format to be much more friendly to a user visiting it from a small mobile device.
So, now you have it, the differences between the mobile web, a mobile app, and a little more insight into what mobile enabled web sites are.
Now back to where we started, and that is the meteoric rise of mobile app usage. According to a study done by Flurry (http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/115191864580/apps-solidify-leadership-six-years-into-the-mobile), mobile app usage now commands 86% of all time spent by consumers on their phones.
Because consumers now spend so much time on their phones, in-app advertising has become both increasingly important as well as increasingly effective. In order to avoid throwing around more jargon and be the contributor to more confusion, the definition of in-app advertising is exactly what is sounds like: advertisements that appear inside of an app rather than on a web site, mobile enabled or not.
The key thing to note about in-app advertising is that various studies (http://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2014/08/27/study-mobile-ads-actually-do-work-especially-in-apps/) have found that in-app advertising is twice as effective as mobile web, or web enabled advertising. Twice means that an in-app add is 100% more effective than an ad on the mobile web. That is a significant number and needs to be paid close attention to.
The difficulty is that now you as the business owner or manager have to come up with the best possible digital strategy to use your budget most effectively in order to grow your business. The good news is that we are here to help. The bad news is that you need all of it but for different, focused, reasons. Please see our blog post on Digital Marketing Strategy for more details.
Click here to see how mobile apps compare to web sites.