What were the top apps of 2015?

Nielsen, the same company that produces statistics for TV viewing, has released a list of the top smart phone apps for 2015 based on the number of average unique users.

Perhaps not surprisingly for many, the entire top 10 consists of apps put out by Facebook, Google, and Apple. The list reflects the growing influence of both social media and smart phone usage.

Nielsen also said that the use of smart phones grew to 80 percent in the United States at the end of the third quarter of 2015. ComScore still shows smart phone penetration at 78 percent, but the difference is negligible. It is important that online marketers embrace mobile marketing if they are to continue to be successful.

Here’s a look at the top 10 apps and Nielsen’s findings:


The Facebook app had the most average unique users, coming in at 126.7 million.

That’s 8 percent more people than were using the app last year.

Marketers already know that Facebook is a great way to reach customers, but this data shows that marketers should also be targeting them through the mobile app and not just the main site or even the mobile site.


Parents already know how great the YouTube app is for the phone. But many others use the app to watch music and catch up with viral news.

The app draws in 97.6 million average unique users, which is 5 percent more than last year. YouTube continues to show that it is a force to be reckoned with in digital marketing.

Facebook Messenger

Facebook made waves when it required users to access their messages through this separate app instead of offering it as an option.

Yet users quickly adjusted, and there has been little discussion about it since the change was made.

Likely because of the required change, the Facebook messenger app saw the most year-over-year growth, at 31 percent. The app has 96.4 million average unique users.

Google Search

Google is already the search king, but the app has made it easier for people to perform a quick search without having to open their phone’s browser and type in the search engine’s URL.

The Google search app had just over 95 million average unique users, which was an increase of just 3 percent over last year.

Google Play

Google Play is the app store for Android users, and it is the place to get movies, TV shows, games, music, and more.

It’s not surprising that the app was one of the most popular for the year. It had 89.7 average unique users, which was 7 percent more than the previous year.

Google Maps

Google Maps quickly toppled Mapquest after it came out, and most people use it as their de facto GPS locator.

That’s partially due to the fact that when you search for a business or other place on Google, it provides the directions through Google maps. You have to copy and paste the address to get directions from a different provider.

Google Maps had 87.78 million users this year, up 8 percent.


Not surprisingly, Google products dominate this list.

Google has become the authority on the web, and most products that it introduces succeed.

Gmail was one of its early offerings, and it has continued to be one of the top providers of free email. The app has 75.1 million users, which was up 4 percent from the previous year.


Instagram exploded onto the scene when it was introduced, and it has become a mainstay in social media.

The app had 55.4 million average unique users, which was up 23 percent over the previous year.

Apple Music

Everyone loves to listen to music on their smart phone or to stream it through their car stereos.

The Apple Music app had an average of 54.55 unique users, which was up 26 percent from the previous year.

Apple Maps

Finally, Apple Maps came in at Number 10, with an average of 46.4 unique users.

The app grew 16 percent over the previous year.

By paying attention to the trends in app usage, you can identify new advertising strategies for your brand. These apps cover the market, so you can reach every niche with one or more of these apps.

In addition to in-app advertising, you can look into mobile marketing on other websites that are popular among users.

It is important that you do not put money into the mobile version of a site when the app is more popular. For example, most people access Facebook through the app not by entering the URL on their phone.

Make sure you understand the audience you will be reaching and how that compares with your other options when putting together your advertising strategy. Working with a consultant can also help you identify the right advertising opportunities and create the most effective campaign.