Technology

Mobile Study: Home is Where the Eyeballs Are

If you're trying to reach an audience with your app, the app alone isn't necessarily enough to win people over. A new study gives the home screen well-deserved attention.

Could the next frontier in mobile marketing be a spot where people already look dozens of times a day?

According to a new research report from Mobile Posse and Phoenix Marketing International, a major new frontier in reaching mobile users could be no further than your home screen. Some highlights from their study, “The Ultimate Guide to the Next Big Wave in Mobile: The Home Screen”:

Notifications a boon: With users picking up their phones dozens of times a day, according to various studies on the matter (one outlier, AdTruth puts the number at 150 times), there’s a lot of room to catch a person’s eye with a well-placed notification. And with boredom (42 percent of respondents Phoenix Marketing surveyed for the home screen study said they pick up their phones to kill time) and a fear of missing out (34 percent of those polled said they pick up their phones as soon as they receive a notification), there’s a lot of potential to reach users through passive updates rather than by having them interface with an app.

Where we spend our time: Nielsen’s October 2013 research findings cited by the home screen report notes that we’re way more likely to spend our time using a smartphone’s interface than we are individual apps. More than a quarter of all time spent on our phones (26 percent) is either on the home screen or the UI, with text messaging (19 percent), social networking (17 percent), and games (14 percent) also taking up other big chunks of time. Other app categories—including, surprisingly, web browsing—make up a very small amount of usage time. Part of this, the new study explains, is because users generally don’t pick up their phones with a particular goal in mind. “With such power-packed devices in our back pockets and purses, one might think a purpose-driven, ‘always on’ society might be using our phones in a pragmatic fashion. Not so,” the study states.

Pushing beyond push notifications? The home screen study says that push notifications—the primary vessel for home-screen updates on mobile platforms—are useful, but leave potential untapped. “At present, push notifications do a good job at sending messages out, but the messages are basically text teasers that require the user to engage to ‘get the full story,'” the study states. The rise of customized home screens—an option for Android, but not iOS, users—could get past this limitation by offering a feed of continually updated information that doesn’t require additional interaction with an app.

Keep it simple on the home front: A customized home screen offers a lot of potential, but too much additional complexity can create pitfalls. Last year, Facebook failed to make an impact with Facebook Home, a home screen replacement for Android. What happened? According to the home screen study, the approach was too invasive, burying everything else and making the phone all about Facebook. This misstep temporarily blunted the momentum of home screen solutions as a whole. But developers have pushed forth with more simple alternative approaches that have shown early signs of success: Last month, Yahoo acquired Aviate, a startup that built a home-screen solution similar to Google Now. And Motorola’s Moto X Active Display drew positive notices for its intermediary-screen style approach to notifications.

The full home screen study is available on the Mobile Posse website.

(Aviate press photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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