This article originally ran in September 25, 2017 in Access AI.
In the early 1900s, “newsies,” young boys shouting “Extra, extra, read all about it!” were a common scene on street corners. By the Great Depression, neighborhood paperboys appeared as a way to combat falling advertising revenue. The personal selling strategy put a newspaper on the doorstep of every American home.
Flash forward to the shift from print to digital in the 1990s, when media publishers were forced to change their business proposition in order to get their content online. The proliferation of mobile phones during the 1990s and 2000s gave way to a new challenge and opportunity for media companies to distribute their content to mobile devices.
Today more than half, 52 percent, of smartphone users spend their time on digital media via a mobile app. In 2015, news apps were about two percent of that total share, but that number is predicted to rise to 14 percent in 2017 according to a 2015 comScore report.
It isn’t a question of whether or not mobile apps are essential. Gartner predicts by the end of 2017 there will be more than 268 billion mobile downloads that will generate $77 billion in revenue. That’s a lot of apps and a lot of usage. Mobile apps play a critical role in the access to information by the consumer.
From a sales perspective, 42 percent of all mobile sales generated by leading businesses in 2016 were from mobile apps. So, what’s next?
With more than 2.2 million apps in Google Play and two million in iTunes, mobile-app makers and content creators are vying for consumer attention in a crowded and noisy market.
How do you get to those users? Traditionally you push content to users during standard hours — commuting times before and after work, middle of the day, etc., in the hope of capturing their attention.
Time-based notifications are the modern version of the paperboy shouting that famous “Extra, Extra!” phrase. It’s all been push, push, push. And, it’s ineffective.
Today, there is an additional focus on new trends in mobile apps like virtual reality and augmented reality enabled chats, a more satisfying user experience, and more robust location-based services. Even those don’t always achieve success in engaging a consumer. The industry is stuck in a loop of focusing on which tech or mobile device a user has, instead of who they are and the moments in their lives that are the most impactful for engagement. It isn’t enough anymore to simply add future tech into a mobile app. The app must tap into the user’s life moments. It must understand and anticipate what the user will be doing.
We’re entering a post app era that’s centered around “less is more.” 2016 marked the first year that consumers started to shift to apps that performed a variety of functions rather than apps that had just a single purpose.
This means apps need to be more meaningful to the user. Features need to be more aligned with who the user is and the world they move in. This shift in the user’s behavior in the post-app era has the potential to change the way consumers access the internet and services.
This is where an app enhanced with Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into play:
A moment is a change in the situation of the user. It’s knowing and enabling your app to act at an exact moment when the user needs that content in their lives. AI allows an app to engage with the user at the ideal moment; it’s as simple as learning what the user is doing and then giving them the content they need at that particular moment,
If the user is sleeping, it’s not the time to send them notifications or encourage them to engage with the app. In fact, the best proof of why this is so important is in the traditional use of time-based notifications. In time-based versus AI-based notifications, on average, engagement will increase by 60 percent.
If a media app can recognize where the user is and who they’re with, and then push the content that fits that situation, the app then becomes indispensable to the user.
It comes down to being aware of the moments and situations in a user’s life and adapting to what the user is doing. Once the app knows, it can predict and anticipate the next action for the user. Users don’t have the same schedules, so why engage with them as if they do? AI learns an individual user’s’ behavior and from these insights adapts to provide the right engagement for each user.
Apps enhanced with AI shift the paradigm through user awareness that matches who the user is, their behavior, and what is likely needed or preferred at a given moment. This ensures the right message is delivered at the right moment for optimal engagement.
In an overcrowded app marketplace, AI can be the difference between becoming an integral part of the user’s life or just the flavor of the month.