For most publishers, initial downloads were impressive but usage was dismal and revenue, either from sales and subscriptions or from advertising, was non-existent. The closure of Apple’s Newsstand marked a symbolic low point in the publishing app’s rapid rise and fall.
But overall app usage is up, way up, and although this is no easy fix, mobile apps may be an opportunity for publishers to regain a little of the loyalty their brands have lost recently to third party platforms like Facebook.
Mobile now dominates digital media usage: Smartphones and tablets claim two-thirds of time spent with digital media, according to comScore’s 2016 US Mobile App Report. The mobile web, where it’s easier to link and share, accounts for the highest number of users; mobile web audiences are almost three times bigger than app audiences and growing twice as fast.
But the real opportunity for publishers is with apps. Mobile apps now account for almost half of digital media time and three out of every four mobile minutes. They lead the mobile web by a margin of 7:1 in terms of time spent, a ratio that comScore says has held constant for the past two years.