New numbers from Nielsen indicate that apps are on the way up. Makes sense since smartphone penetration, according to the report, is up 50 percent (compared to 12 percent last year). So if apps are on the rise, should marketers focus more on apps than on mobile optimized sites? Jeff Hasen, CMO of Hipcricket, a mobile marketing company, believes it’s not a binary option. Each brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
There are few absolutes in mobile. I never bought the debate that tried to make us believe that mobile Web and mobile apps was an either/or situation. As marketers, we need to follow the numbers, keep an open mind, and anticipate what’s next. Yes, apps appear to be on the rise. But we have to dig deeper and ask “why”. One driver is the always-on nature of apps across the board. Many apps (like games) can be used even when there is no connectivity. We know that many apps are downloaded —but we also have evidence that many apps lose their appeal quickly and are rarely, if ever, used. In contrast, a mobile website is a more of a necessity than a novelty. People require access to optimized destinations using their mobile devices and they expect brands to provide mobile-friendly experiences once they get there. This — as I learned from ESPN while researching my newly released Mobilized Marketing book — is critical. Mobile users often punish brands that fail to deliver a great mobile experience.
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