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WhatsApp surpassed FB as most popular Facebook-owned app in 2018: App Annie

App Annie, the leading app analytics and app market data company, has predicted that app store consumer spend will surpass $120 billion in 2019 – double the size of the global box office market and 5x as fast as the overall global economy. In its annual report, ‘The State of the Mobile 2019’, App Annie has stated that games will fuel the bulk of consumer spend growth in the app stores, as mobile gaming will continue to be the fastest growing form of gaming. 

China will remain the largest contributor to consumer spend growth in the app stores; however, App Annie expects to see a slight deceleration in the aftermath of the game licensing freeze in China. The report further states that consumer spend on in-app subscriptions will largely fuel the 2x growth rate for apps outside of games versus games, albeit games will represent nearly 75 per cent of total consumer spend.

Driven by expansion in casual and hardcore ends of the spectrum, mobile is expected to grow to 60 per cent market share. According to the report, the mobile gaming experience was seen to mature in 2018. Fortnite and PUBG – along with upgraded smartphone specs – drove multiplayer game mechanics that put them on par with real-time strategy and shooter games on PC/Mac and Consoles in a way that hadn’t been done before, all while complementing existing mobile gaming habits. For many publishers, mobile has the scale – and growth – that makes it a particularly compelling platform. On the opposite side of the spectrum, hyper-casual games with simple gameplay are expected to drive growth in downloads and adoption in 2019. 

Consumer spend in mobile gaming is predicted to reach 60 per cent market share among all gaming platforms: PC/Mac, console, handheld and mobile. With the aftermath of China’s game licensing freeze continuing into 2019, Chinese firms will push harder for international expansion and mergers and acquisitions could become more common. 

The report also states that 10 minutes of every hour spent consuming media in 2019 will be streaming video on mobile. The average individual consumes media – across all channels – for over 7.5 hours each day. In 2019, 10 minutes of every hour spent consuming media across TV and internet will come from individuals streaming video on mobile. Total time spent in video streaming apps per device will grow by 110 per cent from 2016 to 2019. Global consumer spend in Entertainment apps will grow 460 per cent, fueled largely from in-app subscriptions in video streaming apps. 

Disney is set to disrupt the market in 2019 with the introduction of its streaming service, Disney+ giving Disney four top streaming apps in the space: Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ - embedded within the ESPN app – and ABC. However, it’s a crowded space with players wanting to own their own content, a similar pattern to cable TV. As a result, on the consumer side there could be a resurgence in piracy, as accessing content requires multiple decentralised subscriptions. With increased competition, App Annie expects consolidation in the space through partnerships and content bundling or acquisitions over time. 

60% more apps will monetiae through In-App Advertising in 2019, vying for a piece of the $250 billion digital advertising market 

Mobile has taken over a significant share of advertising spend and is the predominant growth factor behind digital ad spend. In 2018, mobile will account for 62 per cent of the $250 billion digital advertising market, representing $155 billion, up from 50 per cent in 2017. In the US, mobile surpassed TV ad spend. Mobile app publishers are taking note of the changing advertising landscape. In 2019, 60 per cent more apps will monetise through in-app ads. This will increase competition among advertisers. There are already indications of maturation in advertising strategies for apps leveraging in-app ads as part of their User Acquisition (UA). With more consumers than ever before using mobile, and more time being spent on these devices, it is expected for advertising dollars to follow. Mobile is the first screen, and it is here to stay.

Time spent in Top 5 video streaming apps up 140% in 2018 vs 2016 

Australia, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand all saw over 140 per cent growth in time spent in the top 5 video streaming apps in 2018 vs. 2016, with India topping the charts. This is an indication of consumption habits shifting from desktop and television to mobile. Convenience trumps all, even the smaller screen size.

India is way ahead of the rest of the countries in terms of hours spent in Top 5 video streaming apps over the period of two years (2016-2018). 

YouTube was the #1 app by time spent in video streaming apps for all markets except China, including worldwide, for 2016, 2017 and 2018. Globally, YouTube accounted for 9 of every 10 minutes spent in the top 5 video streaming apps in 2018. YouTube Kids also ranked highly in Brazil, Canada and Australia. In India, the Top 5 video streaming apps by time spent are YouTube, Hotstar, JioTV, Amazon Prime Video and Voot. 

Game-streaming app Twitch, ranked in the top 5 by time spent in Canada, Brazil, US, Australia, South Korea and France – an indication of the growing popularity of mobile gaming and esports. 

Movie & TV streaming services dominate top consumer spend charts for video streaming 

Globally, over $2.2 billion was spent on the top 5 video streaming services in 2018. Netflix held its #1 position in 2018 as the most lucrative video streaming app worldwide. However, sports streaming was a large drawcard for streaming services – fuelled by league sports as well as cyclical events such as the 2018 Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup 2018. 

Live streaming apps such as BIGO LIVE and Nonolive were particularly lucrative in APAC, ranking among global and local strongholds such as AbemaTV in Japan and Viu in Indonesia and Thailand. 

2018 was a breakout year for Tencent Video and Youku – consumer spend in China for the two apps grew 745 per cent and 770 per cent from 2016 to 2018, respectively. 

Over 685B hours spent globally in Social & Comms Apps in 2018, up 35% from 2016 

Half of time spent on mobile globally was in Social and Communication category apps in 2018. While time spent in social networking and messaging apps grew year-over-year in 2018, it represented a slightly smaller portion of total time spent on mobile – indicating that mobile’s importance continues to spread into other areas of our lives. 

Video has become an expected feature for many social and messaging apps. Whether surfacing as live streaming, video calling, or viewing short-form video, apps such as Instagram, Snapchat and Tik Tok have leveraged video in a  one-to-one or one-to-many mode to foster deeper engagement, particularly for Gen Z. 

Among the most used Social and Communication apps globally, WhatsApp Messenger topped the chart for per user engagement in 2018, measured by average monthly sessions per user. This illustrates the historical demand for free calls and messages, a simple user interface, ease of use to add contacts and interest in encrypted messaging. As a result, WhatsApp has benefited greatly from the network effect over time. 

Outside of WhatsApp Messenger, Snapchat is the most frequent chart-topper for per user engagement in the markets analysed. Specifically, Snapchat ranked #1 In France, the US and Australia, an indication of the importance of photos and videos in modern communication. 

In India, the Top 5 Social & Communication Apps by Average Monthly Sessions Per User, are WhatsApp Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and imo. 

WhatsApp Messenger dethroned Facebook by monthly active users in September 2018. WhatsApp reached mainstream success by disrupting traditional telcos with a free alternative to standard services. Although their value prop has subsequently expanded, this core offering has resulted in continued success in emerging markets, where the cost of using a mobile device is still high relative to average income. While the app has been operated autonomously, it has been owned by Facebook since 2014. Notably, Instagram saw the strongest global growth in its user base at 35 per cent from January 2017 to December 2018. 

The user bases of all of Facebook’s properties saw consistent global growth over the last 2 years. Facebook as a company came into the spotlight in 2018 amid data privacy headlines, particularly in the US and Europe. Despite this scrutiny, it is clear most users prioritised convenience and their existing app habits over privacy concerns.

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