Mobile Devices

3 Mobile Trends To Kick Off 2020

In 2000, Marc Andreessen—co-creator of Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser—declared "software is eating the world." That's when marketing started shifting to digital. 

Fast-forward to 2014, when mobile analyst Benedict Evans updated the statement by replacing the word "software" with "mobile."

Evans knew what he was talking about. Think about how much mobile has completely transformed the way people buy products, consume entertainment, approach the dating world, interact with their families and friends, and work. According to Bond’s "Internet Trends 2019" report by Mary Meeker, U.S. adults already spend more than half their digital media time on mobile devices.

Consumers are spending more money via mobile, too. During the 2019 holiday season, sales transactions made on smartphones accounted for 36% of online revenue (up 21% year over year) and 58% of visits to retail sites were made on smartphones, according to Adobe's "2019 Holiday Recap Report." And by 2021, per Statista, total spending via mobile is estimated to reach $3.56 trillion, accounting for 72.9% of total e-commerce sales.  

Clearly, a mobile strategy needs to be a core part of any successful digital transformation and customer experience. So what trends will impact mobile as we move forward in this new decade?

Trend 1: CMOs Will Continue To Focus On Converting Web Users To App Users

Consumers are quite busy using their mobile apps, spending up to 20 times more time with content there than on mobile websites, according to Branch data. In fact, apps engage and convert three times better than mobile sites, and they get 16 times more usage minutes per month than their mobile Web counterparts, Branch data shows.

Drilling down, Branch found users spend most of their time within just a handful of popular apps. The reality is, while marketers can use Web content to power and drive Website discovery in both organic and paid channels, apps are walled gardens that are hard for consumers to discover.

What does this mean for marketers? They have two choices: They can continue to spend more to acquire users through traditional app-install ads. Or they can turn to alternative means of user acquisition through other campaigns, such as sending emails to users with promotions to download the app, deep-linked social content, referrals, and targeted, personalized Web-to-app banners. I say "targeted" and "personalized" because Branch data revealed the level of personalization of a dynamic banner has a huge effect on the view-to-click ratio—almost five times the conversion rate of a static app banner.

Trend 2: Fragmentation Will Continue 

When the Internet started to grow in popularity and websites became the main way to get to places and do things, a standard emerged: the HTTP protocol. This worked because the Web was a democratic platform, not owned by any one tech giant.

Mobile emerged differently. It started and continues to grow on separate platforms, like iOS and Android, and it’s “owned” by a handful of tech giants all fighting for more users and creating moats and standards that only work on their own platform. This has resulted in an incredibly fragmented ecosystem. Each mobile platform also has its own way of organizing and building apps—and the way to access content on one platform can be vastly different on another platform.

On top of these closed ecosystems, other players are trying to create their own closed ecosystems within “super” apps (such as Facebook, Snapchat, WeChat, Rappi, and GoJek). In addition, every super app is now trying to create its own app store. For example, WeChat has already reached 1 million mini programs (the apps built on top of WeChat), Amazon is launching an app store for AlexaGoogle is launching one for Android TV, and the list goes on.

What does all of this mean for brands? In addition to having a website and app, the reality is if they want to reach the largest number of consumers, they also will need to have a presence on Android, iOS, social platforms, local super apps, and other emerging mobile platforms.  

Trend 3: Mobile Moves Beyond The Smartphone

Although the past few years has been about the rise of the smartphone, the mobile ecosystem will continue to grow and evolve, and a trend we'll see solidify in 2020: Mobile enablement will no longer be solely tied to devices like smartphones and tablets. Cars, TVs, homes, and other mobile-connected devices also will loom large and have app stores of their own, becoming a bigger part of the mobile experience.

In addition, augmented reality (AR) will make a big splash, particularly since it’s rumored that Apple and Facebook will finally announce the launch of their AR glasses. You think the iPhone changed our lives? Imagine wearing these glasses and getting product information as you look at merchandise in-store, or being able to change the color of a sweater you’re considering purchasing, or seeing taco ads in real time with a highlighted route to a restaurant.

What does all of this mean for brands? As new platforms become mainstream, brands will have to adapt and enter relevant new app stores. Watch this trend closely; joining a new platform like AR in its nascent phase could give brands a leg up in the years to come.

In Summary

Mobile will dominate in both reach and ROI in 2020, and we are likely to see the rise of completely new platforms and discovery mechanisms for content on them. Marketers who watch these mobile trends closely and are able to take advantage of these new platforms and ad networks will get a leg up for their brands in the years to come.

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