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Are Tablets Taking Over The Online Ad Marketplace?

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Even those who don’t pay much attention to industry sales figures can see that tablets are fast becoming the platform of choice for internet activity. Recent statistics show a surge in the demand for tablets. An International Data Corporation (IDC) study comparing tablet shipments in the first quarter of 2013 to the same period in 2012 revealed an overall increase of 142.4% year over year. Predictably, Apple’s share of this growth declined by 18.5% YoY), while Samsung market share rose from 11.3% to 17.9%. See the chart below for details on numbers of shipments and other vendors. IDCTabletShipments Tablet ownership has also increased dramatically over the last three years. The percentage of US adults owning tablets has increased from 3% in May 2010 to 34% in May 2013 (Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project tracking surveys). PewInternetStudy Not only are shipments and ownership of tablets increasing, but their share of ecommerce website traffic is also on the rise. An August 2013 report from Monetate indicated that 10.58% of website traffic in Q1 of 2013 came from tablets, compared to just 5.95% in Q1 of 2012.

MonetateShareofMarket

(Source: Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Q1 2013 Report
based on 500 million shopping experiences)

While traditional devices still dominate website traffic, tablet growth from 2012 is notable.

So what is the significance of the increasing presence of tablets for marketers today? Adfonic’s Q1 2013 Global AdMetrics Report analyzed the source of more than 157 billion ad requests through the quarter and discovered that tablets were the source of 15% of ad requests. Further, their recent AdSnap tablet report suggests that ad campaigns on tablets perform much better in terms of clickthrough rate (CTR) than those on smartphones – for both branding and direct response goals.

With statistics such as these, marketers need to ensure that ad campaigns include creative that plays well on tablets. This is, however, easier said than done. Third-party cookies on the mobile platform work differently, making it harder to track behavior to gauge how ad creative is performing. Options are available to clarify the situation and help you judge the effectiveness of ad campaigns for mobile, but consumers are increasingly moving to do-not-track technology. Another huge challenge is that the industry as a whole has not reached any consensus about  best practices for driving conversion or engagement on the tablet platform.

As a marketer, before you even consider ad placements, check your site on a variety of tablets to see how it looks on medium-sized screens. The result will definitely affect ad placement and decisions on the types of creative that will best fit your campaigns. With tablet use growing, if your site’s interface is cumbersome on this new platform, you run the risk of losing out on sales to consumers who have been frustrated by having to scroll excessively.

If you discover that your site doesn’t display well on the tablet (or in addition, the smartphone format), raise the issue with your web developers to discuss solutions such as responsive design or other adjustments. A number of free tools are available to check your site’s display in popular platforms and resolutions – one I recommend is Screenfly.

Once you’ve worked out issues with site design and figured out how to deal with tracking and analytics on tablets, there is still the matter of assessing the optimal format for your ad creative on the tablet platform. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s Tablet Advertising Committee working group prepared a preliminary guide to advertising on tablets late in 2011, but no firm best practices have been finalized. Still, it’s a good place to start for ideas on how to develop creative for tablets and information on how existing IAB ad sizes work on this platform.

One thing is certain – tablet use shows every indication of continuing growth before it levels out. You cannot afford to ignore this trend if you are to remain relevant in your product or service category, especially if that category is related to consumer goods in any way. Gain the knowledge you need, run the appropriate tests, and see what works, before it’s too late.

Image: Mobile to Tablets – Original Billboard Image from Shutterstock

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