Q&A: Mobile Posse's Greg Wester on Overcoming the Appnostic Moment

May 21, 2019

Article ImageNew research suggests that, more often than not, when we pick up our phones we don't have a specific task in mind. Rather, we pick it up a bit mindlessly in search of something to do. In fact, research from Mobile Posse and Phoenix Marketing International found 88% of mobile users regularly exhibit appnostic behavior, while only 11% of users have a specific app in mind more than 90% of the time. Mobile Posse's CMO, Greg Wester, says that savvy app makers will take advantage of this "appnostic" state of mind. EContent editor, Theresa Cramer, recently had the chance to interview  Wester about his take on the report's findings. 

Q: Can you tell us, in your own words, what “appnostic” means?

A: Appnostic is the state of mind of picking up our phones without a specific task in mind; rather, we pick up the phone for convenience and as a gateway to things we like. Or said differently, appnostic is when you don’t know what you want to do on your phone, but you know that something in it will satisfy you.

Q: Your research indicates that 22% of consumers unlock their phones 70% of the time without an app in mind. How can app makers take advantage of this state of mind?

A: The new research considers that the last app used before putting the phone down is going to get used first the next time the phone is unlocked. Developers should really begin to embrace this reality and look at what their unlock and relaunch processes look like. We see a wide range of performance in reengagement at unlock, some of which is attributable to app design.

Q: How can we improve mobile discovery options overall?

A: Just because someone doesn’t have an app in mind, doesn’t mean the phone shouldn’t have something in mind for them. You see this happening already--the phone endeavoring to be more useful. For instance, when my phone provides traffic updates based on a meeting on my calendar, or when Apple, Samsung, and Google make more services available by swiping right. The so-called “smart”-phone’s UI/UX is 13 years old. Look for lots of changes in UI/UX combined with AI to make our phones more proactive.

Q: Are push notifications effective in overcoming appnostic moments?

A: No. Notifications are sent on the publisher’s timetable, not the consumer’s. By the time I pick up my device, I’ll have a dozen notifications queued up chronologically. If I’m lucky, the most recent might be intriguing enough to cause me to engage with it. But like many email newsletters (and gym autopay plans), we get numb to them. A recent report by Verto Analytics found that less than 2% of all device unlocks involve engaging with push notifications from news/media/entertainment apps.

Q: Who stands to benefit the most from improving mobile discovery?

A: Carriers. Handset OEMs. Smartphone O/S developers. The research industry is finally beginning to show, with hard metrics, that the journey on mobile can become the destination. It’s these three stakeholders that have the ability to improve how our phones can be proactive. Of the three, wireless carriers have the chance to gain the most -- they’ve begun to develop their own content plays. Ultimately, a proactive device becomes a win-win.

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