Brands seeking to grab consumer interest on mobile should think about the very first moments of attention when the device is unlocked, a new report suggests.

The Mobile Unlock Journey drew on Verto Analytics’ Smart Panel Data to measure Unlock Launch Rate (how often an app is launched because it was the last app running when the phone was locked or because the user interface otherwise set it to be activated after unlock) and Unlock Engagement Ratio (the number of unlock sessions where the first app is viewed more than 10 seconds / the number of unlock sessions where the first app is viewed less than three seconds).

The smartphone has, the report said, a very poor Unlock Engagement Rate on average: when a phone is unlocked, the app that’s relaunched by unlock is closed in under 10 seconds more than 50% of the time.

This presents a major opportunity for smartphone OEMs and wireless carriers to improve the user experience when people unlock their phones, it said, as their attention and interest level is extremely high.

Some app categories, such as Sports and Games, returned a higher Unlock Engagement Ratio, indicating that they are more likely to hold a user’s attention when given the opportunity at unlock.

The research also revealed that push notifications rarely initiate content discovery; in the context of a user’s daily unlocks, less than 2% of all device unlocks involved consumers engaging with notifications from news/magazine/entertainment type apps.

“Consumers unlock their devices almost 50 times a day, and because smartphones typically launch the last app used, it is very important to understand the beginning of the mobile unlock journey and how those apps can recapture user attention effectively,” said Vinayak Nair, VP of custom research and analytics, Verto Analytics.

“This is the next big mobile battlefront,” he stated. “Expect more players to enhance their products as they battle for the power of grabbing attention immediately at unlock.”

Not surprisingly, messaging/social apps were seen as having the greatest opportunities to capture/steer consumer engagement at unlock – each create more than 100 unlock engagement opportunities a month per user compared to the 50 occasioned by browsers.

Improving the Unlock Engagement Ratio makes it more likely a consumer finds and spends more time with the app they see after unlocking their phone. “This also would mean better placement and targeting opportunities for brands,” added Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, CEO, Verto Analytics.

Sourced from Verto Analytics; additional content by WARC staff