Report: Upon Unlocking Phones, People Flock to Social, Messaging

Anyone with a smartphone unimmune to our pervasive cultural addiction with digital communication will be unsurprised: It’s WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook that currently capture most of the attention when we mindlessly unlock our mobile devices.

That’s according to media measurement company Verto Analytics, which released a report just this morning on the earliest part of the mobile journey: what happens right when we unlock our phones some 50 times per day.

To be fair, media apps, such as Metro by T-Mobile’s MetroZONE and SmartNews, also command steady audiences at the moment after unlocking. But any app faces an uphill battle in getting the user to engage once she’s opened her phone. The app launched after unlocking is closed within 10 seconds more than 50% of the time.

Interestingly, push notifications appear to be ineffective at getting us to unlock. If they do get some activity going, they only rarely generate engagement, accounting for less than 2% of all device unlocks.

The surefire bet for marketers looking to capitalize on the initial moments of mobile activity lies with the notifications that tell us human contact may be on the other end of the transom. Most irresistible are the messaging and social apps we click to see if someone is trying to chat with us or just likes the photo we most recently posted. Messaging and social create more than 100 unlock decisions per user per month, doubling the 50 times consumer turn to the screen to browse the Web.

“Consumers unlock their devices almost 50 times a day, and because smartphones typically launch the last app used, it is very important to understand the beginning of the mobile unlock journey and how those apps can recapture user attention effectively,” said Vinayak Nair, VP of custom research and analytics, Verto Analytics. “This is the next big mobile battlefront. Expect more players to enhance their products as they battle for the power of grabbing attention immediately at unlock.”

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Follow him on Twitter @joe_zappa, and shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.

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