Kantar's Profiles Blog

The New Question for Mobile Research: App vs. Web?

Posted by Stefan Kuegler on Oct 26, 2015

To App or not to App?

Pepsi vs. Coke? Android vs. Apple? There never seems to be a right answer to these questions, but people are still strongly opinionated about their preferred brand.

One question that may be up for debate even longer is app vs. web.  

There are pages of stats and infographics, including the examples below, that highlight the strengths of apps for people to gain access on their mobile. Some things might always (currently) be done via the browser and even via the PC (i.e., banking) but when there is a choice the app is head and shoulders above.


Time Spent In Mobile Apps (image: Flurry.com)

Users prefer apps over browsers on their Mobile. Browsers are used for very limited things – searching for one. While obviously a huge proportion of that time is spent on gaming and social media, the fact that other areas of our lives are controlled by apps could mean that the browser on a mobile would be like using the fax - unlikely.

I have seen some stats that should even greater swing to apps with 95% of the time being spent in that environment. Whatever the true number, there is clear evidence that on mobile, apps are the preferred usage medium. Looking at another chart below, the trend is increasing.


Before we turn to what this means to us, let’s just consider another few stats.

  •          102 billion app downloads worldwide – over 90% of them fee-free.
  •          Currently 1.6 million in the Google Play store – the Apple app store is not far behind.

From eBay to Facebook; Twitter to Amazon, all leading brands have apps, even though they all have mobile optimized web pages. From the above chart we can see what medium users want to access those sites. So what does this mean? And how does this impact us?

As marketing researchers, we want to make transitions to new data collection systems easy for our respondents. Taking what we know and then using this information to make it easy to transfer respondents from one form to another. This is what we have tried to do for our current surveys. Taking the online surveys (with some tweaks hopefully) and allowing the surveys to entered from mobile browsers. Simple. This is great for us – but is it great for our respondents?

It might be time to re-think how we serve surveys to our respondents. If they live in an app world, then maybe this is where our industry should be playing as well. For some companies the investment in an App technology has paid off, for others not so much.

In all mature markets, we see a large growth of panellists being recruited via their mobile devices, sometimes as high as 50% come via a connected device. However when it comes to surveys, PCs are still the main device used. Is this because respondents are expecting something else on their mobile?

Apps offer a platform for many mobile enriched data to be captured – video, bar-code scanning, location – some of which can be done through browsers as well. However, the app provides a more seamless way to capture that data – working directly with the phone systems and making full use of the attributes of the phone. You can’t do geo-fencing with the browser.

Let’s re-connect with our friend, the App, and see what it can offer us. Users want to be in this world so should we.



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