Understand app engagement with usage patterns and you’ll understand how to make more money from your app. App monetization depends on user engagement.

No Engagement Means No Monetization

First of all, the cash flow depends directly on ads, upgrades, or upsells. Users who aren’t engaged won’t click through or convert, so you’ll lose that direct source of income.

Second of all, engagement is often correlated with the app’s overall relevance and value. Disengaged users won’t pay attention to your brand, your company, or your other products.

There are a few factors that influence engagement. Your app must be useful, usable, entertaining, and relevant to a user’s needs.

However, context also plays a big role.

People are busy, so time, place, and convenience will all impact engagement and usage patterns.

Understanding App Engagement and Usage Patterns

To improve marketing, advertising, and app design, it’s important to understand how and when people use certain types of apps.

Here is an overview of app engagement and usage patterns for a few of the major app categories, according to recent information published by Social Times:

Social Media

Peak usage for social media apps occurs between 5 and 10 pm.

Most people tend to “snack” on social media apps in short bursts, about 2 and a half minutes each. There are around 25 app launches per month, which averages to just over an hour of total use.

Average CPI for social media apps averages at $2.32, lower than the other categories mentioned here.


News apps seem to be taking the place of the morning newspaper, with peak consumption occurring between 5 and 10 am.

These morning commuters spend about 6 minutes engaged with their news apps, long enough to catch up on a few stories. There are only 15 average monthly launches for news apps, so people end up using these apps only once every couple days.

News apps have the highest CPI among the categories reviewed here, at $3.04.


Music apps spike at 5 pm.

With 16 monthly launches that last around 9 minutes each, this suggests that most people use these apps right after work, similar to social media apps. Between 2014 and 2015, music app usage increased 79%.

Music apps have average CPIs of $2.67.


Entertainment apps also get most of their use between 5 and 10 pm.

These apps’ average sessions last 8 minutes each, with around 10 launches per month. Given that people are spending less time in front of TV screens, we might infer that these apps are helping to reel in TV viewers.

Entertainment apps come in third place, with a CPI of $2.48.

Using this Data

To make the most of this data, you should naturally make use of the data that applies to your niche. If you have a news app – or if you want to target users of news apps – then you should focus on the morning commuter. And if you want to target social media users, then prepare for the evening rush.

Here are some ways to use this data in your marketing and monetization.

News Apps

  • Distribute at the right time. Target the morning commute, so make sure your content is ready by 5 am or the previous evening.
  • Use push notifications, but don’t overuse. Focus instead on breaking news, or offer users the option to customize news story notifications by category.

Social Media Apps

  • Get ready for the evening rush by posting updates throughout the day. When users browse feeds at night, they’ll be prepped for your content.
  • Since users spend only a couple minutes at a time in-app, make sure your content is bite-sized and optimized for short attention spans.

Entertainment Apps

  • Focus on the after-work crowd. Guide them through the actions you’d like them to take.
  • Use push notifications to personalize entertainment content. Recommendation systems work great: notify users of new episodes, seasons, or other shows they might enjoy.

Music Apps

  • Engage users with relevant content that will keep them listening even longer, such as playlists, social shares, and recommendations.
  • Push notifications generate lots of engagement for music apps, so take advantage of push notifications to keep engagement rates high.

All Apps

  • Track user data and use that to create personas and profiles. Use this to personalize the app experience and created tailored, targeted marketing campaigns. Always segment, instead of broadcasting.
  • Set goals, milestones, and benchmarks. Create engagement goals, then use your metrics to track your own progress towards those goals.
  • Optimize your strengths and fix your weaknesses. Every app has a strength that differentiates it from its competition. There are few one-size-fits-all apps, so instead of trying to improve engagement by catering to everyone, narrow down your audience and improve your experience for that smaller segment.
  • In apps, personalization is king. Using the data you’ve gathered, leverage your app’s unique strengths to create a personalized content and marketing program that differentiates you and creates unique value for your users.


While the data in this article focuses on the media vertical, it can just as easily apply to every other vertical. The more you pay attention to your own engagement data, the more you’ll be able to improve that engagement and add more value to your users.