Study: Ads Effective As Way To Stimulate Dormant App Usage, Prevent Deletion

  • Apps are regularly “cleaned out” by 60 percent of smartphone owners, says Yahoo.


    Smartphone owners spend nearly 90 percent of mobile device time in apps. However, only a small fraction of the 25 to 40 apps on users’ devices are regularly used; the rest are neglected and eventually replaced or deleted.

    A new study from Yahoo offers some new insight into why and when people delete or replace apps and what triggers new and replacement app downloads. The study is based on behavioral data from more than 2,500 US smartphone users, ages 13 to 64.

    Yahoo app data

    Yahoo found that apps are regularly deleted during “periodic clean outs,” which occur at least monthly, if not bimonthly. Insufficient storage was one of the most frequently cited reasons for deletion. However, lack of use and boredom were also major deletion drivers.

    Yahoo app study

    Yahoo points out that nearly 30 percent of apps are cut in less than a week. However, the company also observed that on average, apps are neglected or dormant for roughly 12 weeks prior to deletion, “with content apps churning the fastest.” This suggests there’s lots of “notice” to developers prior to deletion, presenting an opportunity to re-engage users through notifications or ads.

    Yahoo app report

    Ads and app store placement (being featured) were key download drivers for consumers looking for new content or to replace stale apps. Yahoo also found that smartphone owners both searched and browsed for content in app stores, with category search or specific name search being the way most users found new apps.

    Yahoo app study

    Negative app store reviews, storage issues and pricing were found to be the primary download barriers after app-store discovery.

    In addition to being a source of app downloads, Yahoo found that ads were an effective way to jump-start dormant app usage across most categories. The chart below shows the success rates of developers in different app categories in re-engaging app users with advertising.

    Yahoo app study

    (Some images used under license from

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