5 Mobile Trends Marketers Should Know for 2021



From the continued rise of video streaming apps and hyper casual gaming to TikTok, here’s how you can prepare your brand for the new normal in the world of mobile next year.


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In 2020 consumers have reshaped their daily lives. They expect brands to tap into innovative ways to engage with them at virtually every stage of the journey in a world where digital connections are the new norm. Through mobile devices and video we’ve endeavored to create shared experience and a sense of belonging.

According to a new report by App Annie, several of these trends are here to stay. Before we take a closer look them, here are a few quick takeaways to note:

  • Mobile data is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have when it comes to being armed for disruptors like TikTok and staying ahead of changing consumer behaviors
  • Mobile advertising will dominate overall digital ad spend and likely hit $290 billion worldwide in 2021
  • Don’t overlook mobile gaming — it captures 1.5x of the market compared to all other gaming platforms combined

Now let’s unpack some of the underpinning themes around mobile to keep top of mind as we navigate these final months of the year.

TikTok: a more powerful opportunity than ever

Perhaps the biggest ticket item all marketers are eager to know as they shape their mobile strategies is what does the future look like for TikTok? To put it simply — very promising. Per App Annie, the platform will exceed one billion users, 1.2B to be exact, over the course of the next year despite whether it will still be operational in the U.S. or not still up for debate.

For context if you haven’t kept tabs, since 2018 TikTok has nearly tripled in size. Even more, it saw the second-highest consumer spend among non-gaming apps in Q3 2020, which remains a a testament to its earnings potential for investors and the breadth and depth of the experience it offers its users.

Compared to some of its competitors that prioritize ad revenue, TikTok has found a sweet spot where it monetizes from ads, but also delivers opportunities for creators to transact in more authentic ways such as tipping and virtual gifts that paves the way to a hard-to-break positive feedback loop that keeps users invested.

The continued rise of “at-home” activities

As restaurants, gyms, malls, and other non-essential businesses shuttered their doors in March, we turned to our devices. While some may initially have thought this would be a temporary fix, many recent insights say otherwise. App Annie for instance, finds that time spent in key “at-home” categories is expected to top 1.3 trillion hours on Android phones alone in 2021.

More specifically, food delivery apps will become mainstream in the QSR space, financial apps will continue to gain steam as more people feel empowered by taking control of their finances in fun and inclusive spaces like those offered by amongst others. E-commerce is also on track to skyrocket to unforeseen levels. The report notes that in the U.S. consumers will set a new record for mobile shopping at 1 billion hours spent on Android devices in the holiday shopping season.

The ‘hyper casual’ gaming era and video streaming apps

Mobile games saw a 15 percent spike in weekly downloads from peak stay at home orders through Q3 and shows no signs of stopping. In 2021, App Annie predicts spend on mobile games will cross the $120 billion threshold adding, “….We expect 2021 to be the year of the hybrid mobile game genres, as gamers get savvier and mobile phones are becoming more capable in providing sophisticated experiences previously only available on Console or PC.”

Another big trend to note, especially if you’re a brand eager to maximize reach and engagement amongst younger demographics like Gen Z? The increase in multiplayer games that blend deeper ‘core’ multiplayer gameplay and mechanics with meaningful interactions between friends and family. Look no further than Among Us or Hunter Assassin as key examples that help illustrate this shift. “Hyper casual games have been a great user acquisition funnel for many publishers, and now we expect the focus to shift partially to building depth and engagement,” the report notes.

Finally, what of video streaming? U.S. consumers will have an average of 9.5 video streaming apps on their phones in 2021, an increase of 85 percent YoY — a direct response to a need to fill our content-hungry voids as we await a vaccine. “In a fragmented market, we are starting to see a major movement toward consumers seeking out a mini, curated ‘bundle’ of video streaming providers — as apps on their phones.” As far as the players that will rise to the top — socializing, connection and shared-experiences should be at the center of their plans.

You can download and check out the full report here:

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