App stores saw record 218 billion downloads in 2020, consumer spend of $143 billion

Mobile adoption continued to grow in 2020, in part due to the market forces of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to App Annie’s annual “State of Mobile” industry report, mobile app downloads grew by 7% year-over-year to a record 218 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, consumer spending grew by 20% to also hit a new milestone of $143 billion, led by markets that included China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Consumers also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone, the report found.

In another shift, app usage in the U.S. surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours on their mobile device.

The increase in time spent is a trend that’s not unique to the U.S., but can be seen across several other countries, including both developing mobile markets like Indonesia, Brazil and India, as well as places like China, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Germany, France and others.

The trend isn’t isolated to any one demographic, either, but is seen across age groups. In the U.S., for example, Gen Z, millennials and Gen X/Baby Boomers spent 16%, 18% and 30% more time in their most-used apps year-over-year, respectively. However, what those favorite apps looked like was very different.

For Gen Z in the U.S., top apps on Android phones included Snapchat, Twitch, TikTok, Roblox and Spotify.

Millennials favored Discord, LinkedIn, PayPal, Pandora and Amazon Music.

And Gen X/Baby Boomers used Ring, Nextdoor, The Weather Channel, Kindle and ColorNote Notepad Notes.

The pandemic didn’t necessarily change how consumers were using apps in 2020, but rather accelerated mobile adoption by two to three years’ time, the report found.

Investors were also eager to fuel mobile businesses as a result, pouring $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year. According to Crunchbase data, 26% of total global funding dollars in 2020 went to businesses that included a mobile solution.

From 2016 to 2020, global funding to mobile technology companies more than doubled compared with the previous five years, and was led by financial services, transportation, commerce and shopping.

Mobile gaming adoption also continued to grow in 2020. Casual games dominated the market in terms of downloads (78%), but Core games accounted for 66% of games’ consumer spend and 55% of the time spent.

With many stuck inside due to COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines, mobile games that offered social interaction boomed. Among Us, for example, became a breakout game in several markets in 2020, including the U.S.

Other app categories saw sizable increases over the past year, as well.

Time spent in Finance apps in 2020 was up 45% worldwide, outside of China, and participation in the stock market grew 55% on mobile, thanks to apps like Robinhood in the U.S. and others worldwide, that democratized investing and trading.

TikTok had a big year, too.

The app saw incredible 325% year-over-year growth, despite a ban in India, and ranked in the top five apps by time spent. The average monthly time spent per user also grew faster than nearly every other app analyzed, including 65% in the U.S. and 80% in the U.K., surpassing Facebook. TikTok is now on track to hit 1.2 billion active users in 2021, App Annie forecasts.

Other video services boomed in 2020, thanks to a combination of new market entrants and a lot of time spent at home. Consumers spent 40% more hours streaming on mobile devices, with time spent in streaming apps peaking in the second quarter in the west as the pandemic forced people inside.

YouTube benefitted from this trend, as it became the No. 1 streaming app by time spent among all markets analyzed except China. The time spent in YouTube is up to 6x that of the next closet app at 38 hours per month.

Of course, another big story for 2020 was the rise of e-commerce amid the pandemic. This made the past year the biggest ever for mobile shopping, with an over 30% increase in time spent in Shopping apps, as measured on Android phones outside of China.

Mobile commerce, however, looked less traditional in 2020.

Social shopping was a big trend, with global downloads of Pinterest and Instagram growing 50% and 20% year-over-year, respectively.

Livestreaming shopping grew, too, led by China. Downloads of live shopping TaoBao Live in China, Grip in South Korea and NTWRK in the U.S. grew 100%, 245% and 85%, respectively. NTWRK doubled in size last year, and now others are entering the space as well — including TikTok, to some extent.

The pandemic also prompted increased usage of mobile ordering apps. In the U.S., Argentina, the U.K., Indonesia and Russia, the app grew by 60%, 65%, 70%, 80% and 105%, respectively, in Q4.

Business apps, like Zoom and Google Meet among others, grew 275% in Q4, for example, as remote work and sometimes school, continued.

The analysis additionally included lists of the top apps by downloads, spending and monthly active users (MAUs).

Although TikTok had been topping year-end charts, Facebook continued to beat it in terms of MAUs. Facebook-owned apps controlled the top charts by MAUs, with Facebook at No. 1 followed by WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.

TikTok, however, had more downloads than Facebook and ranked No. 2 by consumer spending, behind Tinder.

The full report is available only as an online interactive experience this year, not a download. The report largely uses data from both the iOS App Store and Google Play, except where otherwise noted.

#amazon, #android, #app-annie, #apps, #argentina, #brazil, #china, #computing, #e-commerce, #facebook, #financial-services, #france, #freeware, #germany, #google, #india, #indonesia, #instagram, #japan, #kindle, #linkedin, #messenger, #mobile-app, #mobile-applications, #mobile-commerce, #mobile-device, #mobile-devices, #mobile-technology, #operating-systems, #pandora, #paypal, #pinterest, #roblox, #russia, #snapchat, #social-media, #software, #south-korea, #spotify, #the-weather-channel, #tiktok, #twitch, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #video-services

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Stitcher’s podcasts arrive on Pandora with acquisition’s completion

SiriusXM today completed its previously announced $325 million acquisition of podcast platform Stitcher from E.W. Scripps, and has now launched Stitcher’s podcasts on Pandora across all tiers of the streaming service. The deal brings top Stitcher titles to Pandora, including Freakonomics Radio, My Favorite Murder, SuperSoul Conversations from the Oprah Winfrey Network, Office Ladies, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Literally! with Rob Lowe, LeVar Burton Reads, and WTF with Marc Maron, among others.

On Pandora, the podcasts will be indexed using the company’s proprietary Podcast Genome Project technology. This system leverages  automated technology — like natural language processing, collaborative filtering, and other machine learning approaches — then combines that with human curation to make personalized recommendations to podcast listeners on Pandora’s app.

The podcasts will also continue to be available in the Stitcher app in North America, the company says.

The Stitcher acquisition brought with it several key assets, including its own mobile listening app, which includes a premium tier of exclusives, and the Midroll Media network for podcast advertising. Stitcher also creates its own original programs and runs multiple content networks, via Earwolf.

That means SirusXM gained thousands of top podcasts with the deal’s closure. The company also now claims it has the “largest addressable audience in North America” across all categories of digital audio, including music, sports, talk, and podcasts thanks to the combination of satellite radio service SiriusXM, streaming app Pandora, and now Stitcher.

The company believes the deal will help it to attract more creators to its platform, thanks to the enhanced production, marketing, and distribution capabilities it offers, following the deal’s close. Advertisers, meanwhile, will be able to more precisely target podcasts for better ad efficiency, and will gain access to improved measurements, says SiriusXM.

In terms of Stitcher’s execs, CEO Erik Diehn will now report to Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer of SiriusXM, who also oversees content at Pandora. Stitcher’s Chief Revenue Officer, Sarah van Mosel, will report directly to John Trimble, Chief Advertising Revenue Officer of SiriusXM.

“We are deepening our position in podcasting, the fastest-growing sector in digital audio, and with completion of this transaction, our vision is taking shape,” said SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer, in a statement about the deal’s completion. “With Stitcher and its varied assets, we are now a one-stop shop able to meet the needs of podcast creators, publishers and advertisers, while also providing listeners with access to great shows, series and programming.”

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted many consumer trends and accelerated others, podcasting still remains one of the fast-growing digital audio industries. Podcast downloads returned to pre-COVID levels this summer, and Spotify reported that podcast consumption more doubled in Q2 and nearly a quarter (21%) of its active users now listen to podcasts.

Stitcher was not SiriusXM’s first acquisition focused on podcasts or ad technologies. It also bought podcast management platform Simplecast this June, and before that, it acquired AdsWizz for $66.3 million to power Pandora’s advertising efforts.

#apps, #media, #mobile, #pandora, #podcast, #podcast-advertising, #sirius-xm, #siriusxm, #spotify, #stitcher

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Pandora launches interactive voice ads into beta testing

Pandora is launching interactive voice ads into wider public testing, the company announced this morning. The music streaming service first introduced the new advertising format, where users verbally respond to advertiser prompts, back in December with help from a small set of early adopters, including Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestlé.

The ads begin by explaining to listeners what they are and how they work. They then play a short and simple message followed by a question that listeners can respond to. For example, a Wendy’s ad asked listeners if they were hungry, and if they say “yes,” the ad continued with a recommendation of what to eat. An Ashely HomeStores ads engaged listeners by offering tips on a better night’s sleep.

The format is meant in particular to aid advertisers in connecting with users who are not looking at their phone. For example, when people are listening to Pandora while driving, cooking, cleaning the house, or doing some other hands-free activity.

Since their debut, Pandora’s own data indicated the ads have been fairly well-received, in terms of the voice format. 47% of users said they either liked or loved the concept of responding with their voice, and 30% felt neutral. The stats paint a picture of an overall more positive reception, given that users don’t typically like ads at all. In addition, 72% of users also said they found the ad format easy to engage with.

However, Pandora cautioned advertisers that more testing is needed to understand which ads get users to respond and which do not. Based on early alpha testing, ads with higher engagement seemed be those that were entertaining, humorous, or used a recognizable brand voice, it says.

As the new ad format enters into beta testing, the company is expanding access to more advertisers. Advertisers including Acura, Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Doritos, KFC, Lane Bryant, Purex Laundry Detergent, Purple, Unilever, T-Mobile, The Home Depot, Volvo, and Xfinity, among others, are signed up to test the interactive ads.

This broader test aims to determine what the benchmarks should be for voice ads, whether the ads need tweaking to optimize for better engagement, and whether ads are better for driving conversions at the upper funnel or if consumers are ready to take action, based on the ads’ content.

Related to the rollout of interactive voice ads, Pandora is also upgrading its “Voice Mode” feature, launched last year and made available to all users last July. The feature will now offer listeners on-demand access to specific tracks and albums in exchange for watching a brand video via Pandora’s existing Video Plus ad format, the same as for text-based searches.

 

#adtech, #advertising, #advertising-tech, #media, #mobile, #music, #pandora, #streaming-music, #voice, #voice-ads, #voice-assistant

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SiriusXM acquires Simplecast to double down on podcasts with distribution and analytics tools

Podcasting continues to see a strong trajectory in the world of streamed audio content, and today comes the latest development on that front. SiriusXM, owner of Pandora and backer of Soundcloud, said that it is acquiring Simplecast, a podcast management platform used by creators to publish and distribute podcasts, and subsequently analyse how they are consumed. SiriusXM plans to integrate Simplecast with AdsWizz, a digital audio advertising company that it acquired in 2018 for $66.3 million in cash plus shares to power ads on Pandora .

The company is not disclosing any of the financial terms for the Simplecast acquisition but we have asked and will update if we learn more. As a startup, New York-based Simplecast, which will continue to be led by its founder and CEO Brad Smith, had raised a modest $7.87 million in funding from investors since launching in 2013, per PitchBook data.

The deal is interesting because it is bringing one of the more popular independent platforms and set of tools used by streamers under the wing of a platform. Simpleccast’s many podcasts and users today include Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Netflix, Maximum Fun, Cloud10, QCODE, Anna Faris is Unqualified, Blue Wire, and Revision Path, who use it to distribute content over multiple, and sometimes competing, networks, including Apple, Spotify, Google and Overcast. (Business plans currently range in price and start at $15/month and go up to $85/month or more depending on podcast size, number of users, and features that you need.)

Pandora (with help from SiriusXM, which has a large and popular stable of talk radio shows on its channels) has been building up its own spoken-word content, of course, so there is a direct opportunity to push more on-demand podcasts to that platform in particular, as well as offer more interesting terms for doing so, as well as bring in a much wider spectrum of podcasts to run AdsWizz’s inventory, which currently is seen by more than 100 million people each month across the US and Canada (SiriusXM’s and Pandora’s footprint in vehicles, online and more).

We have asked SiriusXM if the plan will be to keep all of Simplecast’s services as-is after the deal closes.

What’s clearer is that, with SiriusXM also making a key investment in Soundcloud last year, the company is — like Spotify (which acquired a Simplecast competitor, Anchor, last year) — building up its music-business tools to complement its position as a content provider: this is a key role to play in the brave new world of digital music, where monetisation remains a challenge for most, and the tools to distribute, analyse and (yes) monetise one’s creative content continue to get more sophisticated, so much so that getting that part of the equation right can make or break an artist or wider creative or media endeavour.

“Our goal is to provide audio publishers with state-of-the-art platforms and give them everything they need to be successful,” said Alexis van de Wyer, CEO of AdsWizz, in a statement. “Empowering podcasters of any size to create, distribute, analyze, and monetize their work is the next natural step in pursuing our vision.”

“From the beginning, Simplecast’s mantra and mission was to remain laser-focused on podcast creators – building the best tools for publishing and insights,” said Brad Smith, the Founder & CEO of Simplecast, in a statement of his own. “The opportunity and alignment with AdsWizz allows our product — and our customers — access to a powerful monetization platform. Two best-in-class platforms are now able to align with the shared mission of helping publishers succeed, while each team continues to focus on their respective areas of expertise.”

#exit, #media, #pandora, #podcasts, #simplecast, #siriusxm, #startups, #tc

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SiriusXM rises on Q1 earnings beat, but warns of coronavirus impacts to come

SiriusXM’s first-quarter 2020 earnings today painted a picture of what’s ahead for the music and entertainment service in light of the coronavirus outbreak. While the company surprised with both an earnings and revenue beat in the quarter ended March 2020, its satellite radio business also lost net subscribers due to declines in auto shipments, and the company spoke of further declines in ad sales and in customer responses to its marketing campaigns.

The company did manage to beat expectations in the quarter, reporting revenues of $1.95 billion, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.63%. And it saw earnings per share of $0.07 (a profit of $293 million), beating the estimate of $0.05 per share, and up from the earnings of $0.03 per share a year ago.

But the earnings beat comes at a time when even SiriusXM isn’t sure of what the future holds for its business — it withdrew its full-year 2020 guidance, citing the still unknown potential impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Already there were hints of how that future may look, however. The declines in shipments from automakers offering paid trial subscriptions with a vehicle purchase led the company’s satellite radio business to lose 143,000 net subscribers in the first quarter. This is despite the addition of 69,000 self-paying subscribers, and saw SiriusXM ending the quarter with 34.8 million total subscribers.

The Pandora streaming music service, which SiriusXM owns, added 51,000 net new self-pay subscribers to its paid tiers, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium. Pandora ended the quarter with over 6.2 million self-pay subscribers and 6.3 million total paying subscribers, including those who came in through other promotions.

Pandora ad revenue grew 4% year-over-year to reach $241 million in the quarter, which the company attributed to video programmatic and engagement-based video, its expansion of off-platform efforts and the fees from its AdsWizz platform — a 2018 acquisition.

But Pandora’s gross profit was down 5% year-over-year, to $105 million, as total costs of services grew, including those related to higher revenue share and royalties, customer service, billing expenses and more.

Then there were the expected declines related to the coronavirus’ early impact.

Though much of those troubles didn’t hit until March, SiriusXM warned that “auto sales, advertising, and customer responses to marketing campaigns all fell swiftly in the second half of March.”

That’s only a couple of weeks, mind you, which makes it seem like the company hasn’t really felt the full force of the pandemic on its subscriber growth, ad sales or total revenues.

“Automakers have idled plants, and dealers have closed their retail operations. New and used vehicle sales have declined sharply in recent weeks,” the company said in its earnings announcement.

Beyond that, the overall economy has taken a hit, with rising unemployment and other declines that could touch on SiriusXM’s business in other ways — including the cancellation of sporting events, postponing of concerts, travel declines and more.

“Unemployment is rising at historic rates as non-essential businesses have been closed and workers have been furloughed. Media spending by businesses has dropped sharply. To add to the uncertainty, it is unclear when an economic recovery could start and what a recovery will look like after this historic shutdown of the economy,” SiriusXM also warned.

The company says it expects to see declines in ad revenues at both SiriusXM and Pandora due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as declines in its satellite radio and accessory sales.

Despite all these issues, there are areas where SiriusXM could succeed, as the coronavirus quarantine stretches on — specifically, its exclusive entertainment offerings.

Today, there are already signs that people are looking for other options to keep themselves entertained in quarantine beyond just streaming Netflix endlessly. Nintendo is struggling to keep the Nintendo Switch in stock, thanks to hit games like Animal Crossing, for example, and even podcast listening is starting to recover from the initial coronavirus hit.

SiriusXM could easily cater to the growing demand for virtual events, where music and entertainment reaches consumers stuck at home.

The company has already done this to some extent — with its Ultra Music Festival, home performance from Garth Brooks, Home DJ series kicked off by Taylor Swift, broadcasts of nationwide events like the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit and more. The company also began streaming a COVID-19 news channel 24/7, in conjunction with NYU Langone Health. Plus, it still has Howard Stern…for now.

Plus, as quarantined consumers dig further into non-screen-based activities — like gardening, arts and crafts and cooking, among others — SiriusXM could establish itself as a service offering more than just your usual tunes and podcasts if it strikes the right tone with regard to its marketing efforts.

“Since the start of the global pandemic, our top priorities have been ensuring our employees’ safety and well-being, and continuing to support our subscribers and listeners by providing them the best entertainment, news, and information in the audio space. On both fronts, I’m pleased by our response,” said SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer, in a statement. “We are streaming SiriusXM for free, and we have been in overdrive introducing new shows, channels and special virtual moments,” he said.

SiriusXM also invested $75 million in SoundCloud in the quarter, in the weeks before the pandemic hit, which allows the company to reach 140 million North American listeners across SiriusXM, Pandora and SoundCloud combined.

SiriusXM’s stock is up 2.58% following its Q1 results.

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #earnings, #media, #music, #pandora, #siriusxm, #streaming

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