Mobile web vs. apps: which will triumph in the battle for advertising spend?

It is predicted that by the end 2015, brands and publishers had spent $70 billion globally on mobile ads. This is little surprise considering US consumers now officially spend more time using their mobile devices than they do watching TV.

However, marketers face many decisions as they embark on a mobile advertising strategy, the first of which is determining where to place their mobile campaigns: the mobile web (WAP) or within apps.

A recent study by the IAB showed that consumers value the mobile web and apps nearly equally, so there’s reason to include both placements in a media plan. 

>See also: Why mobile video is driving the evolution of advertising

That said, in-app advertising offers some clear advantages to specific kinds of marketers, such as app marketers who require the ability to measure lifetime value (LTV) of users post-install, and manage against their acquisition costs.

Here are three benefits of advertising inside mobile apps.

1. More time spent using apps

According to Mary Meeker’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers report, 11% of time spent on media happens via mobile web. By contrast, consumers spend considerably more time – 89% of their media time – using apps.

In its 2015 Mobile App Report, Comscore reported that digital media usage time is “exploding”, predominantly being driven by mobile apps. “Over the past two years,” the report said, “total digital media usage has grown 49% with mobile apps having grown 90% and contributing to 77% of the total increase in time spent. Mobile browser is also seeing very strong growth at 53% and even desktop is still rising.”

Although the data may vary by source, the verdict is the same no matter who you ask: mobile apps are eating up the digital universe and are now close to being a majority of all digital media time.

2. Better attribution

Marketers are generally concerned with two metrics: where consumers are coming from and where they are goingto. Attribution – the practice of identifying the sources of traffic volume – is made much easier by advertising in apps.

Understanding the value of consumers is absolutely crucial in deciding where to place advertising, but also in the ongoing optimisation and refinement of campaigns.

There is an entire vertical in ad-tech that is devoted to in-app attribution and post-back attribution.

Companies like Tune ( and Appsflyer ( are becoming important tools for marketers to better understand and decide where to spend their advertising dollars.

Cookies – the identifiers for the above actions – are not widely available for mobile web, but for ads placed within apps, these types of insights are possible.

>See also: 5 trends that demonstrate the growth of mobile monetisation

3. Ability to track LTV

Mobile web is tough to funnel. As mobile web users search, they are harder to pin down and track all the way through to a purchase or download. Mobile web surfers are a bit promiscuous that way.

An app’s closed environment allows the consumer to click straight through and install something, and allows marketers to better track LTV by tracking post-install activity. This is crucial in evaluating the true value of media spend.


Sourced from Dale Carr, CEO and founder, Leadbolt

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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