Device-level app discovery is changing how users interact with their smartphones

Device-level app discovery is changing how users interact with their smartphones

14 October 2022

Smartphones have come a long way in the decade or so since the iPhone and Android devices first came to market. As app stores become crowded with millions of apps, screens get larger, camera quality improves, phones get cheaper, and the number of hours we collectively spend scrolling through our devices keeps increasing.

In fact, a recent survey found that the average person uses their devices for more than three hours a day. At the beginning of this year, mobile data and analytics company (App Annie) announced that 2021 broke device usage records, with a total of 3.8 trillion hours spent on mobile globally.

Mobile-first behaviors have also come into prominence due to the critical importance of smartphones in our daily lives. As a result of their multiple functions, smartphones have become central to everything we do right from the time we wake up – whether it’s checking the daily news, booking a taxi, ordering dinner or working out, there’s an app for everything! In short, smartphones are now an indispensable part of our daily lives.


One aspect of smartphone necessity is due to the symbiotic relationship between the app economy and app recommendation engines. The simple truth is that app stores are overcrowded these days. There are currently 5.4 million apps vying for users’ attention across the Apple and Google Play stores, as well as tens of thousands of new apps being released every month.

While it is true that consumers value choice, many users feel as if they are being bombarded with app ads as marketers compete for attention in a crowded market. This is where third-party recommendation engines come in – their success depends on how consumers don’t want to wade through thousands of app store offerings to find exactly the app they need. Alternatively, on-device advertising allows users to jump into the melee app store and find that perfect elusive app with just one swipe on the home screen.

To be brief, on-device discovery connects smartphone manufacturers with advertisers by engaging users throughout the device’s lifecycle. From the first moment a new smartphone is unlocked, dynamic setup wizards guide users through the setup process and help users fill out their new phone.


Throughout the day, recommendations reach users at crucial decision-making moments, such as when a user has just woken up or traveled, to recommend apps and services they might need via device-wide placements. Users have responded to on-device discovery so far as it has facilitated the most personalized smartphone experience to date.

We can also expect device-level discovery to enable greater personalized user experiences amid industry-wide technological advancements. For example, Beacon technology is already being used by retail-oriented companies to increase customer footfall.

By sending offers and coupons to associated apps, businesses can boost purchases by specifically targeting customers when they are in close proximity to a physical store. Beacon technology adds a new layer of advanced personalization to smartphones by enabling marketers to make decisions using the most useful customer data.


Likewise, as phones become an integral part of our lives as remote control devices for everyday smart technology, we can expect more opportunities for meaningful sharing. Data collected from sensors in smart technology will make device-level detection more complex.

The next few years will be crucial to the development of discovery at the device level. Investment in infrastructure to support 5G networks is expected to grow exponentially and the latest generation of flagship smartphones are equipped to support 5G connectivity. Not only will the 5G roll-out allow for more AI-driven decision making and optimization, but we’ll see more customization possible. Improved data speeds and lower response times will allow marketers to experience more dynamic, personalized, and immersive customer experiences.

The power of on-device advertising lies in its versatility: it has turned smartphones into an extension for its users. As customers become aware of the latest technological advances and become accustomed to the most powerful personal experiences, we will see device-wide placements spread all over the place. The applications of this ad channel are really limitless.


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