Google says forget app versus mobile web, it’s app and mobile web

A recent Think with Google article suggests that “app versus mobile web” arguments should be consigned the recycle bin and that brands need to start thinking how these two “unique” formats can work together.

The piece is not specific to travel, but the insights are relevant for brands whose app and mobile web presence exists in the consumers’ overall m-commerce world.

Consumers, Google says, ” don’t have a strong affinity toward one format over the other” although some of the stats might be of concern for any travel brand looking to drive loyalty through apps:

87% of people say they can be loyal to a brand without having its app on their phone

53% of smartphone users say they do not have their favourite brand’s app installed on their phone.

42% of those who haven’t downloaded their favourite brand’s app have never considered downloading it,

25% didn’t know their favourite brand had one

One headwind in the app world is that consumers need to make a conscious decision to download an app, unlike the mobile web which appears on a smartphone screen spontaneously. A recent study from IdeaWorks into airline apps found that many of the leading carriers were not actively promoting apps to consumers, with the report noting that “the hotel industry seems very eager to encourage downloads with bonus point offers tied to frequent guest programs.”

Google’s observations on this specific point seem out of synch with the hotels’ approach:

“63% of people say that when a brand forces them to download an app to access a deal, they will typically delete it shortly thereafter”

In contrast, mobile web appears to be the way to foster a deeper relationship with a consumer. Google says that the mobile web can “fulfill a customer’s need to learn about, engage with, and make purchases from a brand without needing to resort to an app…”

The caveat here is that offering users a sub-standard mobile web site can significantly harm a brand – more than half of people look poorly on a brand with a disappointing mobile web experience, with the same proportion saying they wouldn’t buy from a  badly designed mobile set. The article however does not specify what constitutes poor design.

Google clearly has an interest in mobile web and apps, and concludes by highlighting “their ability to complement each other” as one of the benefits for mobile marketers,  “whether it’s using your mobile site to build awareness for your app or using your app to drive sales via your mobile site…”

The Google piece is very much an overview, based on US data and not specific to travel, and it has also published other articles on the same theme, including one headlined “3 benefits to merging your app and mobile web teams“. Its stance – which could be seen as getting close to the official party line – that apps and mobile web need to work together is a fresh one and it will be worth watching how this conversation matures.

Related reading from tnooz:

Opportunities for travel brands in shopper’s multi-tasking digital habits (March2018)

Travelers now prefer travel apps to web for search and booking (March2018)

Travel apps strengthen in 2017, airlines start to catch up (Jan2018)

See also:

Next week – May 23rd – tnooz is hosting a webinar, sponsored by Worldpay, which touches on many of issues raised in the Google article. Click here for details and to register for The perfect shopping experience on mobile. How close is yours?

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports. For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology. Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.



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  1. Ian R Clayton

    Apps have had a head start with an inherent advantage of being a program on a personal device. With that it can act with more versatility and process information interactively and personally. But that advantage is fading as we move to artificial intelligent which encompass the entire digital media. Website are no longer static and their level of functionally increases daily as we hook into highly distributed and networked global databases, application and AI. The playing field has shifted and will continue to even out, meaning website will be just as functional, personal and interactive as apps.

  2. Yannis

    Happy to have finally (!) been given confirmation of my thinking: app fatigue. It’s real!


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