How do you measure mobile? It’s a mess, even for web analytics gurus like Judah Phillips at Monster.com, who said as much in an interview with IQWorkforce:
“The mobile space is interesting to me too, but it’s very much like traditional web analytics on smaller screens with some absolutely crazy data collection, sessionization, and visitorization challenges.”
Huh? Let’s start at the beginning.
Just as millions of other people, I have a mobile phone. However, I just discovered that I don’t have a “phone.” I have a “device,” or just simply, “a mobile.” That’s right – “mobile” is now a noun.
I guess the definition of “phone” is now limited to something on which you only make or take calls. And, it turns out, even the lowest end mobiles – or lean mobiles – at least have texting capabilities. (If you want to sound like a techie, use SMS, or short message service. Sheesh.)
Up until last year I had a lean mobile with a camera. I loved using the camera but didn’t send photos to anyone because it would have cost me $15, just like that. I didn’t send any texts because each one made or received cost $0.20 each, which meant every time I got an unsolicited text from a company or an unknowing friend I was a little annoyed. It wasn’t the cost. It was just the principle of it all. I neither wanted nor needed these texts, and I had no control over receiving them.
I’m on a smartphone now, an iPhone 3GS, for no particular reason other than it sounded fun. I’m paying $5/month extra to make or get 200 texts, and I’ve found texting pretty useful – so useful that if I find myself doing more than 200 texts/month I’ll probably pay the AT&T rip-off unlimited-text fee of $20/month. I’ve also been doing everything else everyone else does – reading news stories, tweeting, updating my Facebook status, checking in for flights, buying things.
And I have no idea whether I’ve been using mobile apps or the mobile web.
It turns out “There are ‘three worlds’ in mobile: apps, mobile Web and SMS. In the
case of smartphone owners, they will use all three to varying degrees.” (From Internet2Go.net, March 2009.)
You know what “three worlds” means. Three different sets of metrics.
And, guess what? Apps are device-specific, which means there are different sources of metrics for iPhone apps (which, contrary to popular belief, hasn’t taken over the world), BlackBerry, Palm Pre, etc.
Mobile web browsers (e.g., Safari on an iPhone) are also device-specific.
All of those mobile usage numbers from comScore, Ground Truth (a mobile measurement firm) and the like only measure one mobile world, the world of mobile web browsers. They don’t measure usage from apps. And how many people use mobile apps rather than the mobile web, especially for Facebook and Twitter? I dunno – a lot?
The mobile usage numbers may all be flawed, but they all do point to mobile’s continuing rapid growth. So, unfortunately, that means we’ve got to understand what new nouns like “sessionization” and “visitorization” mean.