Are Tablets Mobile Devices?
According to Google, no. While tablets are exceedingly portable, studies seem to suggest that they are carried around the house, moreso than being carried around town. In a 2012 Google study, the most popular places to use tablets were, in order, on the couch, in bed, in the home, at the table, and in the kitchen. The first out-of-home location to make the list was the car, which occurred only 3% of the time. (I have to wonder if this will change with the growing popularity of the iPad mini, however)
Performance can vary significantly across smartphones, tablets and desktops, across all ad types. According to paid search data compiled by Adobe, conversion rates for tablets are 20% higher than desktops, while smartphones are 42% worse than desktops. If you factor in that CPCs on tablets can be 30% lower than on desktops, paid search ROI on tablets is a whopping 70% better than desktops.
Of course, smartphone and tablet usage has been steadily increasing for the past 2 years. Combined, tablets and smartphones already account for about 30% of all email opens that LiveIntent sees, and tablets are frequently top performers.
Marketers want to exploit those performance differences and separately target tablets, smartphones and desktops. However, according to Google’s announcement today, advertisers will no longer be able to target tablet users individually. Instead, tablets will be lumped in with desktop users, while smartphone users can be target differently through Google’s new “Enhanced Campaign” setup. Advertisers can no longer create separate campaigns to target each device, but will instead need to add a mobile modifier at the campaign level to modify bids on smartphone traffic.
What about the ever-growing, top-performing tablet? Google is making a clear statement: not only are tablets NOT mobile, tablets ARE desktops.
While tablets really are used more like laptops or desktops than smartphones, the motivation here may be more that tablet traffic is actually converse to desktop: tablet traffic peaks precisely when desktop traffic drops. So by adding the two together, weakening desktop traffic appears more robust.
According to Adobe, “Currently, CPCs are lower for tablets given that competition for tablet traffic is still relatively low (but increasing). By lumping the higher performing tablet traffic in with desktop traffic, revenue per search (RPS) will increase for Google as CPCs increase on the combined desktop and tablet traffic. This, presumably, will address Google’s mobile monetization gap as an increasing share of searches is coming from tablets and smartphones.”
As tablets continue to gain market share (and time share) over other devices it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Will tablets continue to mirror desktop? Overtake desktop? Or emerge as something totally different?