Airship’s Data Study of Nearly 750 Million Individual App Users Finds Location Opt-in Has Reached its Highest Rate in Years

Airship’s State of Global Mobile Engagement 2020 report provides key year-over-year mobile trends and clarifies the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on mobile apps

PORTLAND, Ore. — August 4, 2020 — Customer engagement company Airship today revealed top-level results of its global benchmark study, examining the state of mobile app behaviors across nearly 750 million people worldwide. To distinguish between the impact of the pandemic and longer-term changes due to growing data regulations, more stringent app review policies by Apple and Google and ongoing evolution in user behavior, February 2020 was used for year-over-year analysis and then compared to March-June 2020. The full report is available for download here.

Key findings show that the global pandemic led to massive gains for several key engagement metrics that have been trending downward. For example, people opting in to share their location with apps has been on the decline for years since the introduction of GDPR — and this year it declined another 2.5 percent for a global average location opt-in rate of 7.7 percent before the pandemic. Between March-June 2020, location opt-in grew every single month, reaching 10.7 percent — a 39 percent growth rate and an absolute rate not seen since before 2018. 

Year-over-year analysis for February showed that while global active mobile app audiences grew by more than 30 percent, the average number of app opens per user declined 28.5 percent to 17.6 app opens per user per month globally. Similarly, global average notification direct open rates decreased from 6.44 percent to 6.35 percent (-1.4%). Both of these metrics reversed this trend by growing 29 percent throughout March-June, averaging 22.6 app opens per user and a direct open rate of 8.2 percent globally. 

Mobile app engagement metrics vary at a regional level, from markets that are more mature, to rapidly emerging markets with significant mobile-only populations, as well as by industry vertical — especially those most impacted by the global pandemic. For a full view of findings by subregion, industry vertical and mobile operating system, please download Airship’s “The State of Global Mobile Engagement 2020” report. 

Airship's State of Global Mobile Engagement finds marked differences in average app opens per user growth before and after the pandemic began
From February 2019 to February 2020, all regions saw average app opens per user per month decline. March-June 2020 reversed this trend with all regions seeing growth.

Retail continues to have the highest location opt-in rate among the 12 verticals included in the study at 23.1 percent. Three verticals saw their average location opt-in rates more than double over March-June 2020, including Medical, Health & Fitness (+150%), Finance & Insurance (+128%) and Travel & Transportation (+116%).

Airship's State of Global Mobile Engagement 2020 finds the pandemic reversed years-long and widespread declines in average location opt-in rates
Among world regions and industry verticals, location opt-in rates vary significantly. The pandemic reversed a widespread year-over-year decline in these rates by region, while four of the five industry verticals with the highest location opt-in rates saw significant growth.From February 2019 to February 2020, all regions saw average app opens per user per month decline. March-June 2020 reversed this trend with all regions seeing growth.

Among 41 countries included in the study, India, Romania, Mexico, Japan and Brazil saw the biggest gains to location opt-in rates during March-June 2020 — the U.K. was sixth, while the U.S. had the ninth largest growth rate. Countries seeing the biggest gains in average notification direct open rates included South Africa (+147%), Austria (+92%), Taiwan (+69%), Belgium (+64%) and France (+63%).

“The pandemic has brought unparalleled change to everyone and further cemented mobile as the center of our lives for in-the-moment information and streamlined conveniences to manage through this extraordinary time,” said Brett Caine, CEO and president, Airship. “With location opt-in growing to its highest rate in years, and both Apple and Google carefully reviewing apps and providing consumers less specific and more temporary ways to share it, it’s clear that more people are experiencing the value of sharing this information with apps and brands they trust.” 

Methodology

Airship’s benchmark study analyzes year-over-year aggregate behaviors of global app users active in February 2019 (568m) and February 2020 (744m), compared against all active users throughout March-June 2020. Subregions and industry verticals included were those with 10m or more users in February 2020, while the cut-off for countries was 1m or more users in that same month.

About Airship

Marketing and digital experience teams at thousands of the world’s most admired companies rely on Airship’s Customer Engagement Platform to create deeper connections with customers by delivering incredibly relevant, coordinated messages across channels. 

Founded in 2009 as a pioneer in push notifications, Airship now gives brands the user-level data, engagement channels, AI orchestration and services they need to deliver push notifications, emails, SMS, in-app messages, mobile wallet cards and more to exactly the right person in exactly the right moment — building trust, boosting engagement, driving action and growing value.

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