The Tablet Challenge

David Karnstedt is svp and gm of Adobe’s media and advertising solutions group.

The “post-PC era” has arrived, thanks in large part to the rise of the tablet. Laptops replaced desktops as the prevailing computer for work and pleasure-related pursuits over the years, and according to NPD Display Search, 2016 is the year tablets will overtake desktops and laptops as the dominant device. This is presenting digital marketers with a host of challenges that are best addressed sooner rather than later.

While granddaddy of tech, Google, deems the tablet more like a notebook – and we don’t disagree – the tablet uniquely bridges the gap between mobile and notebooks. There is wide differentiation between mobile experience and networks. For instance, if I’m on my tablet on Wi-Fi I want the full-site experience. If I’m on my phone on cell network (e.g., banking), I want the app or a mobile specific site. It’s a little more nebulous when I’m on my phone on Wi-Fi and especially true if I have a big screen or a “Phablet” (that is, a cross between a smartphone and a tablet). The way marketers approach ads needs to take into account device and speed, and that’s a highly complex thing. Marketers, whatever you do, make sure your sites are enabled for all major platforms. Consumers will be trying to engage with you on multiple devices whenever and wherever they want to.

Tablets are an “and” device: they are used to complement to their other devices. But as the data shows, this is quickly changing. A multiscreen world means devices are being used at different times in the day for different purposes. Tablet use peaks between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays, according to Adobe data, while desktop usage is high during the working hours. This pattern changes during the weekend, reflecting the fact that tablets are primarily used at home while desktops are being used at the workplace.

This is good and bad news for marketers. The bad: It’s hard to track the same user at different points in the same funnel, and it’s an opportunity because marketers have more chances to reach their existing and potential user bases at different points in the day. With this, attribution becomes ever more important. Mobile devices, in this case tablets and smartphones, seem to have lower ROI but so many mobile searches start on mobile and end in the store. Further: A more nuanced and targeted approach should be used for ad management across the myriad of mobile devices as they represent differing monetization potential for the marketer.

I believe some of the statistics-based predictions for tablets in the next few years might even be a bit modest. I suspect tablets will account for slightly more than 50 percent of the market this year, and total units purchased could easily surpass 300 million by 2016. It’s the ROI on tablets and the many ways that marketers can engage and transact with consumers that are most interesting to me and the most interesting to watch. Now, we as marketers just need to be ready for what’s next.

Image via Shutterstock

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