Verto Analytics Releases Mobile Unlock Journey Report

Apr 25, 2019


While countless stakeholders are focused on harnessing mobile consumer attention, there’s little understanding of the first moments of attention -- the moment the device is unlocked. To address this void, Verto Analytics announced its release of “The Mobile Unlock Journey,” a report drawing on the firm’s Android Smart Panel Data and providing a first-ever Mobile Unlock Analysis framework.

Key findings include:

  • The smartphone has, on average, a very poor Unlock Engagement Rate. When a phone is unlocked, the app that’s relaunched by unlock is closed in less than 10 seconds, more than 50% of the time. This presents a major opportunity for smartphone OEMs and wireless carriers to improve the user experience when people unlock their phones, as their attention and interest level is extremely high.
  • Push notifications rarely initiate content discovery. In the context of a user’s daily unlocks, less than 2% of all device unlocks involve consumers engaging with notifications from news apps, magazine apps, and entertainment apps.
  • Facebook and other social apps that feature feeds of fresh content benefit from being relaunched at unlock. Around 16% of Facebook’s usage comes from it being the app that is relaunched at unlock.
  • Messaging apps and social apps have great opportunities to capture and steer consumer engagement at unlock. Messaging and social each create more than 100 unlock engagement opportunities a month, per user, confirming there’s an opportunity for these apps to expand their impact in content discovery. By contrast, browsers are relaunched at unlock about 50 times a month; web browsers rank #8 of 10 among app categories relaunched by unlocking the device.
  • Consumers, on average, have 75 different apps installed on their devices, but only use 25 per month and a mere 5-10 apps daily.

Here is the ranking of the best-in-class apps that create engagement at unlock (based on an app’s total number of monthly Unlock Engagements initiated at unlock per user and lasting 10 or more seconds, for those who use the app at least once a month).

  • 86 - MetroZONE (news and entertainment app)
  • 65 - SmartNews (news app)
  • 54 - WhatsApp (communications app)
  • 48 - Snapchat (social app)
  • 46 - Facebook (social app)

To understand which apps tend to recapture and engage consumer attention from the start of the mobile journey, Verto Analytics measured Unlock Launch Rate (how often an app is launched because it was the last app running when the phone was locked or because the user interface otherwise set to be activated after unlock) and Unlock Engagement Ratio (the ratio comparing how often an app gets used for more than 10 seconds to how often it’s used for less than 3 seconds, when it’s the first app used after unlock). For smartphones, the Unlock Engagement Ratio is a little over five, excluding the home screen. Some app categories, such as Sports and Games, have a higher Unlock Engagement Ratio of between 11-12, indicating that they are more likely to hold a user’s attention when given the opportunity at unlock.

Additionally, the report reveals stark differences across age groups when it comes to consumer behavior on smartphones. Verto’s data shows that among U.S. adults, post-millennials unlock their smartphones an average of 79 times per day—the most often of any other age group. This number drops with every successive older age group. In comparison, baby boomers only unlock their smartphones an average of 30 times per day, which is less than half as often as post-millennials/Gen Z.


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